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.
Biscuits are a solid bet in my book anytime, but since moving back to the North Carolina they’ve become a legit life saver post-night out. Flaky, butter, salty, crisp on the top, and sometimes a little sweet – depending on who’s making them – it really doesn’t get more satisfying in my opinion.My most recent list consists of where to find the best biscuits (and biscuit sandwiches) around the Triangle. A plain biscuit will suffice but Monuts‘ chicken and biscuit sandwich, the State Farmers Market Restaurant’s biscuit with a thick slab of bologna, and Rise’s Southern Deluxe, a buttermilk biscuit containing pimento cheese and bacon, never disappoints.
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. If you want to read more about more about Jenn’s love for biscuits, check out her piece in the Indy Week.