Today we went on the food tour (see previous post). Part of the purpose was to meet others and surprisingly it was just us. Our tour guide was a young girl originally from Georgia who was cute and southern and one of the most friendly, outgoing people you could meet. We ended up touring from 11 to 3:30, an hour and a half over the expected time. It was awesome! We had bacon/egg and pastrami/egg on a biscuit to start, at a deli that makes their own pastrami and uses local ingredients. Gabe possibly sold the guy on a solar hot water heater.
On the rest of the tour we had amazingly good chocolate - the shop owner is originally from Hong Kong, studied in Paris and opened up Miel Bon Bons in Carrboro. We had this lavendar chocolate that tasted like eating flowers, in the best way possible. Gabe got a 'South of the Border' chocolate that was SO shockingly spicy. We had cupcakes at Bliss, and anyone that visits me will be subjected to their creations. Then we sampled beer, and learned a bit about North Carolina's emerging brewery scene. Then we went to a couple fancy restaurants. In Acme we met a cook who is one of those people who could talk about food for hours. He schooled me on proper pork braising and told me where all the good Indian and Asian shops are. He then cooked us (just us, the restaurant was closed) some shrimp fried in panko with tomato chutney and eggplant caviar. It was so good. So. Good. He's also in a band, which apparently is very Carrboro.
The next fancy restaurant was Cypress on the Hill, which is brand new. It was just us again, and we had a salad of mixed greens and fennel, with crostini and paprika goat cheese on top. Some green apples, and these sweet onions that someone drove more than 200 miles to specifically get. (They were worth it.) The bar was made of concrete, and the girl behind the bar was cutting flowers bought that morning at the farmer's market and filling them with water from the bartender's nozzle-thing.
Many restaurants get their ingredients at the Carrboro Farmer's Market, which is open year round. If you buy 2 lbs of peppers or tomatoes they fire-roast them for you on site. And we met the lady that coordinates it all. She works on a farm and lives in Carrboro, so she is tan, pretty and has hairy armpits. We met the owner of a farm that just makes cheese and had some wonderful samples, and also learned about cheese making school. Then we spent a lot of time with the pecan guy, who could talk about pecans for hours. He almost did. He sang Gabe Happy Birthday and was really good. His daughter is a singer as well, he told us, and when her 11-year-old little self ran by, he yelled towards her: "Don't go running around hitting old people." He had a Louisiana drawl, but was a graphic designer for a long time in NYC. He wanted to raise his daughter in the South so they ended up here. We learned that this is as far north as pecans grow. We had his pecan pie, and plain pecans. I will never get pecans at Trader Joe's ever again, but only from the odd pecan guy at the market.
We had so much fun, and I love the little town of Carrboro. It reminds me of Haight Ashbury and Somerville, but it definitely has its own character, and is 1/15th the size of either of those places. I found out it is the most densely populated NC town, and perhaps that's why we feel so at home there. Our guide also told us some history and the great places for live music and entertained us the whole way - thank you Mary Charles!
The Triangle area seems to have so many things emerging, the more we learn about it: new downtown areas, new development, new brewery scene, new restaurant scene... hearing about it all left me feeling entrepreneurial. I'm applying for a job that I think I have a good chance of getting. It's almost an hour away, though, and it's 8-5. See any earlier post and you know I'm not a morning person. I told Gabe about this job's hours and he said oh alysa, you're setting yourself up for failure. It's a bit of an exagerration but not far off. So while I have time now, I want to do some creative brainstorming about 'non-job' options. I have a few ideas but am not sure of the feasibility. But something with a flexible schedule, creative, where my ideas and effort get immediately translated into results - that sounds so good right about now. It seems such a great environment for it too. I'm seeing some possibilities...