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.
Mark all your calendars, set every alarm, and tie a string around each finger for the event of the season. On March 30th, a select number of teams will have the opportunity to compete in the first CurEat Your City Scavenger Hunt: Raleigh Edition. Think Amazing Race™ meets food. CurEat has partnered with several organizations to help you explore Raleigh’s culinary and beverage scene. All proceeds will benefit the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Agriculture Education Program.
Raleigh Magazine, 21C Hotels, Transfer Co. Food Hall, The Assembly, S. Pellegrino and other great companies will all play a role in making this a fun, engaging afternoon. The days events will culminate with a team and public donor party at Transfer Co. Food Hall.
Teams will be limited to 4 people and a maximum of 12 teams will be participating, so spaces will be limited. Each team must commit to raising $2,500 with some added clues provided for teams that reach higher fundraising thresholds. Grand prize will be a trip for four to Nashville, TN for 3 days and 2 nights at the award winning 21C hotel and an opportunity to enjoy the city’s sights, sounds and, of course, food.
To be the first to receive event updates and team registration, download and create an account on CurEat (iOS and Android)and check out Raleigh Magazine’s February issue. Event announcements will be included in upcoming newsletters and clues will be popping up in places you may least expect. Get ready to scavenge the city and party for a cause!
Two-thousand eighteen has been quite an enlightening year for me as it has marked the dawn of my cider awakening. For the majority of my adult life, cider was the beverage on the shelf that sat nestled beside apple juice, and hard cider was the drink at the end of the store’s fridge past the cheap beer. It wasn’t until my work with CurEat introduced me to cider experts and makers like Mattie Beason, of Black Twig Cider House, Diane Flynt, of Foggy Ridge Cider, and Courtney Mailey, of Blue Bee Cider, that I acquired a taste for the ancient, fermented apple beverage. And thanks to a 45 minute conversation I recently had with Diane Flynt, I acquired countless bushels of respect for cider and its complexities, as well as inspiration from the woman who pioneered the revival of cider making in the modern South.
The phone rang as I looked over the questions I had prepped in Google Docs for Diane, knowing very well that our conversation would naturally evolve into more than the black and white words on my computer screen. Diane was in the thick of planning a party that some called her retirement party, but what she called a celebration of the 21-ish years of hard work she and her husband, Chuck Flynt, put into Foggy Ridge Cider. Yet, she answered with a warm, inviting “hello”. I knew immediately that our chat would feel as though we were sitting on her porch looking out at her sprawling 250 acre farm in Dugspur, Virginia, a little town tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
After briefly introducing myself and thanking Diane for taking the time to chat, I congratulated her on her retirement. To which she replied, “I don’t like to think of it as ‘retirement’. It’s more of a celebration and a transition into what’s next.” Diane’s transition out of cider production and making doesn’t mean she is leaving her apples behind forever. She and Chuck will still maintain and grow the five to seven apple varieties on their orchard, selling them to cideries. Diane will continue to educate chefs about cider and offer tree grafting classes. Needless to say, we can all take deep breaths because Diane and her heirloom apples aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Being a four-time James Beard Award nominee and semifinalist, Diane is nationally known and respected for her work. But, I was curious as to how she found her way to the orchard, and why she chose to grow and graft her own apple trees on top of making cider. Her journey began in Georgia where she was surrounded by farmland. Diane’s grandfather was a farmer. As a young girl, she would spend time roaming the farm, eating apples from the trees that peppered the land. It was there that she would cultivate her love for agriculture.
Diane would eventually leave the farms of Georgia to attend college, but her career path was far from working the land. “I always wanted to work in agriculture,” she said as she recounted the early days. “It was the 70s and the economy wasn’t great, and I wanted to be able to pay off my school loans. You couldn’t very well do that in agriculture.” She graduated with a business degree, and it was a big deal to be a woman pursuing a career in banking at the time.
For more than 20 years, Diane wore many different hats in business and banking, which means she was in her mid-forties before she started Foggy Ridge Cider. “People thought I wanted to escape the corporate world, but I actually enjoyed it.” I could hear the sincerity in her voice. “I used a lot of the knowledge and experience I gained to operate Foggy Ridge Cider.” As someone who loves being part of a startup and equally loves the land like Diane, I was inspired by what she said next. “I see myself as a creative, and as creatives, we have the capability to do many different things. We evolve.” But, contrary to what many may think about sudden career changes, Diane’s transition from the corporate world to apple orchard didn’t happen overnight.
Diane studied cider making for years before she and Chuck bought their 50 acre (now 250 acre) farm. “Many people think they can take a two week cider making course and be good to go. It’s just not the case,” she said. She even spent time in California and England, honing her cider skills that would be invaluable to the success of Foggy Ridge Cider.
The decision to graft and grow her own cider apple trees, was quite intentional for Diane. Besides living in Virginia where apple trees thrive, making it a no-brainer to own an orchard, Diane loves growing trees. “I’m really good at growing wooded plants,” she said with humble confidence. “I wanted to grow something that would last forever.” Diane wanted to be the grower and the maker – which makes sense for someone who is a creative – and cider apple trees would allow her to be both.
Thirty minutes into our conversation, there was still so much I wanted to know. My curiosity was thirsty. So in order to quench that thirst, I continued to ask questions. I wanted to know how she made cider, the length of time it took for the trees to grow in the Foggy Ridge orchard, the history of cider apples in North America (there was 17,000 varieties at one point), etc. You know, all the things I could have Googled, but I wanted to hear it from Diane, and she kindly answered all my questions without hesitation.
Diane and Chuck planted their first cider trees in 1997, which was the beginning of Foggy Ridge Cider. They didn’t see the first fruits until 2000/2001. And in 2004, they were finally able to make their first batch of cider. I imagined giant oak barrels filled with fermenting apples, but that wasn’t the Foggy Ridge way. Diane chose to make cider in stainless steel barrels because she found that oak overwhelms cider’s already-complex flavors, and she wanted the flavors of the orchard to come through in every bottle.
We talked about other things besides Foggy Ridge Cider like the 3000 sq. foot garden that she and Chuck cultivate together. “We have plum trees, cabbage, rhubarb, berries, etc. If I can grow it, it’s in the garden.” Even when they cook, they cook as a team, with Diane cooking the vegetables while Chuck prepares the meat.
Although I could have talked with Diane for hours, I knew I needed to wind down our conversation. She wouldn’t let me go until I told her a little bit about myself, which I always have a hard time doing. And before we said goodbye, she invited me to her celebration party. I had no idea how inspired I would be after spending 45 minutes on the phone with Diane Flynt. She went from one male-dominated industry to being revered in yet another male-dominated industry, and she did so with a huge smile on her face and determination in her heart. Overtime, Diane allowed herself to grow and evolve and became like that heirloom apple that we all love and hope to find.
For more information about Diane Flynt and Foggy Ridge Cider, visit the Foggy Ridge Cider website. You can also find Diane’s restaurant and bar recommendations by following her on the CurEat App.
Because we’re all about having fun over here, CurEat founder Steve Mangano asked 10 of our CurEaters to share their BitMojis with us and Raleigh Magazine. We had a good laugh as the BitMojis started to roll in. They’re all pretty accurate. Can you guess which BitMoji belongs to the appropriate CurEater?
These days, it seems everyone I know has one of these fun little avatars, including my 85-year-old mother. As described by the app company that created them, BitMojis “allow you to create an expressive cartoon avatar and choose from a growing library of moods and stickers, all featuring you.”
CurEat founder Steve Mangano talks about his daily Raleigh coffee routine with Raleigh Magazine. Read more about what type of coffee he drinks throughout the day and where. You can follow Steve on CurEat for all of his Raleigh coffee shop recommendations.
While my daily routine varies, I adhere to a strict coffee schedule, drinking a different style of espresso throughout the day. We are fortunate to have so many great places in Raleigh to help me stay true to my coffee routine and here, I’ll share just a few.
CurEat founder Steve Mangano spoke at Charleston Wine + Food’s Pecha Kucha + Choir! Choir! Choir! If you aren’t familiar with Pecha Kucha, its an event where speakers have 7 minutes to present their topic with 20 slides. Steve inspired the audience to seek and share positivity instead of leaving negative reviews that live on a review website for eternity. Watch his Pecha Kucha speech and be inspired to make a change in how you search for restaurants and bars! Hint: the CurEat App will help you make that change.