Did you know that the Southern biscuit was considered a luxury pre-Civil War? (We still think it’s a luxurious food staple). When I was a girl, I spent my summers in the West Virginia mountains with my grandparents. Each morning the smell of homemade biscuits would make its way into my room, gently touching my face to wake me for breakfast. More times than not, my maw-maw (it’s an endearing Appalachian way to say grandma) would make biscuits for supper. She used a tall drinking glass instead of a rolling pin because the mouth of the glass served as her biscuit cutter. She was always very practical and efficient. I would watch her roll and cut the dough with grace and precision. My job was to consume the leftover dough.
There was and still is not a biscuit like my maw-maw’s biscuits. But, there are bakeries that have sparked that feeling of summer mornings around the kitchen table in the white house on the mountain top. And, I found that CurEaters Jenn Rice and Robert Donovan each have CurEat lists dedicated to biscuits, and I’m about to bookmark each one.
A few times a year I go to Norfolk, VA for work and not a trip goes by without at least one stop at Handsome Biscuit. Giant sweet potato biscuits split and stuffed past the point of hand holding. Knife and fork and a skipped lunch. The Bleu Blazer calls to me. She is my love. Perfectly fried chicken with spicy red cabbage slaw and blue cheese dressing, sitting between halves of their flakey signature sweet potato biscuit. Add the house made Lupo hot sauce – a slightly spicy, very tangy, perfect play off the blue cheese – and I’m prepped to face whatever hellscape of work awaits me.
But, the temptations to stray from my love are deep. Whether it’s the Hella Fitzgerald, a big voice of fried chicken, bacon with cheddar and red-eyed gravy, or the Hot Betty, a funky tune of fried egg, seared greens, garlic and hot sauce, both of these siren’s songs are strong. The original location in the Railroad district and their new place Near Old Dominion University offer coffee, handmade sodas, a few desserts, a salad and their sandwiches on buns… if you’re into that.
This summer I’ll be building a larger biscuit list while road tripping around the country. I’ll be adding spots like Marsh House (Lisa Marie White) and Biscuit Love (Karl Worley) from Nashville and Sweet Cheeks Meats in Jackson Hole—my old neighborhood butcher shop that curbed biscuit cravings while living out West.
Last summer, the New York Times wrote an article stating that the Aperol Spritz was “officially the drink of the summer.” The article goes on to say that the neon orange-hued cocktail is so popular at Caffe Dante in New York City, it’s now on tap and poured from a 10-gallon keg—noting the bar going through six to nine cases of Aperol per week.
It’s bitter. It’s bubbly. It’s low ABV. It’s refreshing. And yes, it’s photogenic thanks to Aperol’s neon orange hue. Though, what’s not to like? Few and far in between) don’t love its bitterness, but all that aside, it’s hard to deny its summer appeal.
Back to the NYT. Jenna Kaplan, a spirit’s publicist and cocktail enthusiast, was the first to bring the newspaper’s latest headline to my attention: “The Aperol Spritz Is Not a Good Drink,” followed by, “The popular, Instagram-friendly aperitif drinks like a Capri Sun after soccer practice on a hot day. Not in a good way.” While it might not be the best cocktail you’ve ever had in your entire life, it serves a purpose, and that purpose is to remain as summer’s easiest drinking cocktail.
According to Grub Street’s rebuttal, the entire internet is upset about this news, myself included, and it’s time to take a stance for the beloved, bright orange summertime libation. “My guess is if you don’t like an Aperol Spritz, it’s because you’re drinking it wrong—and cutting corners with sub-par bubbles is usually the reason your spritz is tasting too sweet or unbalanced,” notes Kaplan. It’s legit my priority in Italy, accompanied with a sunset or salty, cured meat. Kaplan prefers her backdrop to be a breezy cafe in Rome paired with a buttery bowl of Cacio e Pepe, but when stateside, frequents Nitecap in New York City.
Natasha David, who runs the bar program [at Nitecap], has a rotating menu of always delicious and inventive spritzes, in addition to serving a killer Aperol Spritz,” Kaplan says. We’re not trying to call it the best drink you’ll ever have, but let’s be real here, it is summer in a glass and there’s no other way to describe it.
Aperol has been a staple in Italian culture since the early 1900s, and the Aperol Spritz itself, consisting of Prosecco, Aperol and soda water, has been a mainstay since the ‘50s, gaining popularity in the U.S. by way of social media and clever marketing campaigns. Whether you’d like to admit it or not, the drink is very photogenic.
Saying the Italian aperitif is not good is like saying rosé or a gin and tonic is not good, and we know the latter two are here to stay. At Mulino Italian Kitchen & Bar, the Aperol Spritz is a popular cocktail. Owner Samad Hachby, just back from Italy, notes that everywhere he looked, people were drinking the orange-colored drink. “It’s a great, refreshing drink—it pairs well with any food selection and is a great palate cleanser.”
Jim McCourt, bar manager at Prohibition in Charleston, simply states they’re not going anywhere anytime soon “because they’re f*cking awesome.” The classic drink is “light, refreshing and can be consumed at breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, and just before bed,” he adds. Charlotte’s cocktail extraordinaire, Bob Peters, notes it’s one of his favorite spring/summertime cocktails. “I love starting my evening with an Aperol Spritz because they are not super high in alcohol content,” he says, noting that it’s a mellow way to start the night.
Truth be told, there are no rules for the Aperol Spritz. Drink it anytime of year, anytime of day, and even during a meal, it’s all good to me. Just like a proper gin and tonic in the height of winter. Or a glass of Spanish Rosado in the fall.
“The Aperol Spritz is far from dead, and if anything, its growth in popularity as the unofficial drink of summer has only led to legions of bars and bartenders creating their own unique variations of it,” says Kaplan, who’s all about the Cosmic Club at Nitecap right now. At Northern Spy, Durham’s latest bar, eatery and bottle shop, prosecco is replaced with Stem Ciders L’Acier for a subtle tweak.
In an effort to show just how popular the Aperol Spritz is, CurEat is building the largest list of bars and restaurants serving the drink. So please tell us where you spritz by adding in your favorite bar, restaurant, hotel or lounge serving the vibrant drink HERE.
And if you’re not using CurEat yet, we urge you to download the app to start documenting your favorite spots for specific cocktails or dishes, favorite places with hip music, best pimento cheese, unique bites, and then some.
Thanks to oyster farms, you can eat oysters year-round. In the past, oyster season was from September to April. If you’re like us and always order a dozen oysters on the half shell and a glass of white wine in the “R”-less months, then you probably wish you had a list of where to eat oysters from coast to coast. CurEaters Jenn Rice, Locals Seafood, and Angela Hansberger created CurEat lists specifically for your oyster craving.
CurEater and food writer Jenn Rice tried her first green gill oyster at the Charleston Wine + Food festival and made it her mission to find out more about North Carolina’s hidden gems. Her article for Atlas Obscura left us wondering where to eat oysters fit for the Wizard of Oz. Well, Jenn never leaves us hanging. She recently created a CurEat list to guide us to what a North Carolina oyster farmer calls the “Atlantic Emerald”. The best part is that you can find the green gill oysters as far as Savannah and San Francisco. It’s important to note that the season for the green gill is very short.
When it comes to fresh seafood, we trust Locals Seafood in Raleigh to always have the best. Why? Because they buy directly from the North Carolina coast. One can assume that the folks at Locals Seafood know where to eat oysters when they’re on the road. Thankfully, Locals Seafood is a CurEater, meaning they one hundred percent have a list of restaurant recommendations that serve some fine oysters. Now go and follow Locals Seafood on CurEat. And if you’re in Raleigh go to Transfer Co. Food Hall to peruse their fresh catch. They’ll most certainly have oysters.
If you don’t follow Atlanta CurEater Angela Hansberger on CurEat, we highly recommend you do so ASAP. She is a food writer and knows the Atlanta food scene like the back of her hand, which means she’s knows where to eat oysters. She also has a CurEat list for everyone. Since we’re talking about oysters, we want to highlight her “Best Oysters in Atlanta” list. One of the restaurants we’re itching to try on her list is Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits from the crew behind Kimball House.
I’ll never forget the day I took this photo of North Carolina pitmaster Sam Jones. We were sitting in the middle of a field at Green Button Farm in Bahama, NC (pronounced Ba-hay-ma). He had just finished prepping a whole hog for the NC BBQ Revival, and I was patiently waiting for his famous storytelling. While sipping my Cheerwine, wide-eyed like a child, I listened as Sam relived stories from his past with the detail of a bestselling novel. He is a 3rd generation, award-winning pitmaster who is rising to fame in his own right. But in that moment, surrounded by blades of gold, I met a humble Eastern North Carolina man who didn’t keep with his family’s craft for fame’s sake. He was simply following in his grandfather Pete Jones’ footsteps.
Throughout the remainder of the day, we continued to bond over Southern gospel music, Dolly Parton, and Sweet Home Alabama (yes, the movie with Reese Witherspoon). Sam has since become like that family. So when planning the CurEat Raleigh Scavenger Hunt and the After Party at Transfer Co. Food Hall, I knew I wanted Sam to be there. And sure enough, he will be! Even though we won’t be on a farm in the middle of a field, I want folks to have a little taste of what I experienced.
The guys of Longleaf Swine BBQ will join Sam with the sides, and Transfer Co. Bar, STEM Ciders, and Lassiter Distilling will bring the drinks. Raleigh singer/songwriters James Davy and Zach Wiley will provide music. It’s going to be an urban pig pickin’ to remember.
If you’ve registered for the CurEat Raleigh Scavenger Hunt, then you have automatic entry into the After Party. You can still claim a pre-named team or join a friend’s team. If you would prefer to just show up to the After Party at Transfer Co., you can purchase a ticket! Proceeds from the CurEat Raleigh Scavenger Hunt and After Party go toward the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Agriculture Education Program!
Follow Sam Jones on CurEat for his restaurant and bar recommendations!
It’s a Thursday night and I have a hankering for a cocktail and chef Scott Crawford’s apple-parsnip soup and warm malted wheat rolls. I’m single and my friends are busy. After all, the craving hit last minute, and I plan to walk in and sit at the bar. I throw on jeans and a sweater, slide my feet into the first pair of flats I see in my closet, and make my way to Crawford & Son.
Opening the heavy wooden doors, I am instantly greeted with warmth. Because I decided I needed soup and bread at 4:45 p.m. and Crawford & Son opens at 5:00 p.m., I am able to grab a seat for one at the bar. I chat with John May, who now serves as the general manager, for a few minutes before placing my order. The bartenders know me by name because I always sit at the bar whether I’m flying solo or introducing a friend to one of my favorite restaurants in Raleigh.
Once my order is in, chef comes out to say hello. I have zero regrets about sipping a cocktail and eating malted rolls alone because I’m able to learn more about the men and women who create community through food and beverage. It’s quite magical.
Why am I telling you this story? I recently found CurEater Angela Hansberger’s “Seat for one at the bar” CurEat list for restaurants and bars in Atlanta and thought about how much I enjoy solo dining experiences. I scoped out a few menus from the restaurants on her list and chose the items that I would order when I find myself sitting alone at a bar in Atlanta.
Cocktail: Gin Hat
Dish: Duck Liver Pate, Hawaiian Roll, and ½ dozen oysters
Cocktail: Punch the Lion
Dish: Squid Ink Spaghettini
Cocktail: Death is Not the End
Dish: POH’s Eggplant
Cocktail: Golden Toddy
Dish: darby farms half fried chicken
Dish: Red Dragon Cheese Burger
The cocktails and dishes I chose while laying on the couch at 8 p.m. are the first that caught my eye. I would most likely change the dish after tasting the cocktail. But then again, I could always order a pre-dinner cocktail and a cocktail that would pair better with my meal. Regardless, I look forward to asking for a seat for one at the bar the next time I find myself in Atlanta. And, I will use CurEater Angela Hansberger’s CurEat lists to guide me.
We talk a lot about our CurEaters for a few reasons: they inspire us, most are changemakers in their community, and they know the best restaurants in different cities. As much as we like our CurEaters, we equally like you. CurEat seeks to build a community of friends and CurEaters in which the common thread is food. That being said, did you know that you can find and follow friends on CurEat?
It’s simple to search and follow your friends on CurEat. You can search friends without a profile. The only caveat is that you need a CurEat profile to follow friends and for your friends to find and follow you!
How to Search for friends on Cureat
To start, open CurEat and find the “person and plus sign” icon at the top left-hand corner of the home screen. If you are on your CurEat profile, the icon will be in the same location. When you click the icon, the “people search” screen will open. Enter your friend’s name, check out their lists and give them a follow. Simple, right?
How to invite friends to CurEat
If you don’t see your friend’s name, they have yet to download CurEat and/or create a profile. This is your chance to welcome people to CurEat’s table. To invite your friends, click the box with the arrow in the top right corner of your profile. You’ll have the option to send the link via text, email, Twitter, Facebook or other social media platforms that support link share!
Forgive the bad pun, but we had to do something to get your attention. If you’re like us down here in the South, August really isn’t your favorite month. It’s hot, like really hot, and not to mention humid. And, well, August usually means back to school and summer’s end. But, we now have our silver lining — it’s National Sandwich Month!
Now before you go out and order your favorite sando, first a little history lesson. According to the experts (yes, there are sandwich experts) the official written use of the English word “sandwich” dates back to 18th Century England and was named after eighteenth-century aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. The word first appeared in a journal owned by Edward Gibbon referring to a “sandwich” as “bits of cold meat”.
Sandwiches officially debuted in American cookbooks in the early 19th Century with avant garde fillings like fruit, shellfish, nuts and mushrooms. By the end of the 19th century, sandwiches were everywhere with many of them earning their own names like the “club sandwich”, the “BLT” and the“Reuben”. Things really took off in the late 1920’s with Gustav Papendick’s invention that made it possible to slice and package bread. Sandwich lovers were finally free to concoct their sandwiches as they pleased.
Today sandwiches are everywhere, in almost every country. There’s the Philly Cheesesteak, the Cubano, the Croque Monsieur, the Falafel and the Shawarma. Then there’s the South’s almighty tomato sandwich. (The Bitter Southerner shows us the proper way to make the Southern staple.) We could list sandwiches all day, but we want you to go out and welcome National Sandwich Month at your favorite sando shop. Need help finding one? CurEaters like Piedmont Durham’s John May have made lists of the best sandwich shops in their community.
Are you an authority of sandwiches shops? Download CurEat, make a profile and create a list of favorite sammy shops.
July is National Hot Dog Month, which means we have an excuse to eat hot dogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ok I know what you are thinking, hot dogs, really? And to that we say yes, really. Who doesn’t love a hot dog?!
Now, it’s time for a few, fun facts. Did you know that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that over seven billion hot dogs will be eaten by Americans between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That is with a “B” for billion. During the July 4th weekend alone (the biggest hot-dog holiday of the year), an estimated 155 million are downed each year. That’s an aggressive amount of franks.
For those curious, the term “hot dog” has been linked to the sports cartoonist Tad Dorgan. According to the history books in 1901, vendors began selling hot dachshund sausages in rolls at a baseball game the Polo Grounds in New York. Dorgan was in the press box and could hear the vendors yelling, “Get your dachshund sausages while they’re red hot!” From that he sketched a cartoon depicting the scene but wasn’t sure how to spell “dachshund” so instead he called them, “hot dogs.”
So, now you must be asking where can I get the best hot dogs. That’s where have you covered.
CurEater Robert Donovan has 3 CurEat lists to inspire your hot dog journey this month with over 60 of his favorite spots. If you’re in North Carolina, you’ll want to reference his “Carolina Hot Dogs” and “Old School NC Hot Dogs” lists. Traveling to the Windy City? Robert has a “Chicago Dogs” list that will be your best friend. Hot dogs aren’t limited to N.C. and Chicago, and we know there are hidden gems around the U.S. We challenge you to make and share lists of the best hot dog joints in your city and state. Now, go forth and eat as many hot dogs as you can.
At CurEat it’s clear we love all things that are independent, local and have to do with food. So it is no surprise we are huge fans of Max Trujillo, Matthew Weiss and their NC Food & Beverage Podcast. We listen on our walks, our runs, our drives to and from the office, any chance we get (Quick disclaimer here: we are sponsors of the app). And if you have downloaded it you know why. If you have not had the chance yet, download it now…seriously don’t wait, click here to download and listen.
Max Trujillo and Matthew Weiss are both veterans of the hospitality industry and they use that along with their personalities to create an unbelievable auditory experience that will make you immediately hungry. Each new episode is release on Thursday and runs about hour. So far they are up to episode 39 and with the holiday weekend coming up you have plenty of time to catch up.
It’s a great mix of the food and beverage world. Their past guests have included Henk Schuitemaker (Angus Barn’s wine director), G. Patel owner of Echelon Experience and the founder of Larry’s Coffee, Larry Larsen. Not to mention CureEaters Mattie Beason, who owns Black Twig Cider House and Mattie B’s Public House, Craig Rudewicz the founder of Crude Bitters, Piedmont restaurant’s Chef John May and Chef Cheetie Kumar of Garland.