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Diane Flynt: The Revolutionary Behind Foggy Ridge Cider

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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.  

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Photo via virginia.org

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.

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Photo via wtop.com

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.

foggy ridge cider, cider making, cureat, cureaters, diane flynt

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. 

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Photo via virginiacider.org

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

Bit By Bit

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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.”

Guess who!

Coffee Time of Day

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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.

Read more. 

CurEat Founder Steve Mangano Presents at Pecha Kucha + Choir! Choir! Choir!

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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.

Strands of Food: The Ties of Help One Now + CurEat

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We recently discovered that almost every member of Help One Now downloaded CurEat and created profiles. When we make discoveries like this, we want to learn more! We asked Help One Now’s Chief Operating Officer Brigid O’Boyle why their office decided to use CurEat and what food means to the team! Here’s what she said:

While our work is international, we’re headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina; with staff also in AR, TX, and AL. Our favorite moments are when we get to engage our local communities and form relationships with one another. We love when we are the common thread between people, or even groups of people – people who would otherwise not interact or develop friendships. The best way to do this is sitting down at the table, where everyone has a seat to enjoy good food and conversation, and where relationships are born. The power of sharing a meal is never lost on us, and we love the way food can bring us all together.

In the rare times we are able to have our entire team together, it usually centers around food. Whether at some of our favorite Raleigh spots or in the homes of our friends and supporters, we cherish the time to join around the table and share life together.

Seeing that the Help One Now team is comprised of individuals who have lived in different parts of the country, we know they all have good lists! We encourage you to open CurEat, find them and follow. We’ll even help you out! 

To follow:

Brigid O’Boyle 

Brennon Bloemendaal

Payton Junkin 

Izabel Rader 

Madeline Robless

Austin Collins

Help One Now is a non-profit organization that strives to end extreme poverty, care for orphans, rescue slaves, empower families, and see communities transformed through our international partners.




Bookmark, Pin and Discover Restaurants and Lists

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It’s Friday and you’re scrolling through the screenshots in the album on your phone. You’re looking for the pictures of restaurants, bars and coffee shops to plan your weekend brunch, lunch and dinner excursions. In all honesty, you most likely deleted them because your phone’s storage space was running low. So, we are going to take this moment to tell you about two CurEat features that will not only change your life, but they will also decrease the amount of screenshots you have on your phone: bookmarking and pinning. (We’re always here for you.)
How to Bookmark

Did you know that you can bookmark the restaurants you want to remember for future trips, date nights or Sunday brunches? (This would be the perfect place to insert a happy dance gif.) Open your CurEat app, browse through some of your favorite CurEaters and friends, find a restaurant you want to try in the future and simply click bookmark. Yep, it’s that easy. After bookmarking your restaurant of choice, just head to your profile and click the bookmark tab. Underneath, you’ll discover restaurants you’ve bookmarked.

How to Pin

If you discover CurEat lists that have multiple restaurants you would like to try, you can pin the entire list. Think about it like Pinterest. All CurEat lists are different and you might want to reference CurEater Jenny Bonchak’s “Coffee – Austin” list and CurEater Sam Jones’ “Austin” list. Simply hit the “pin” button on each list so you’ll remember to check them out. Like the “Bookmarks” section on your profile, there is a “Pinned” section where you can find the lists you pinned!

Now that you know how to swing a little more on the CurEat ropes, we challenge you to bookmark and pin as many restaurants and lists as you can. Happy listing!

CurEater Jason Alley: A Pioneer in the Richmond Food Scene

“We got into the Southern food game early, when people were realizing it was a vibrant and important cuisine.”

CurEater Jason Alley, of Comfort, Flora, and Saison in Richmond, Virginia proves that restaurants are more than a delicious meal (though he has that covered, too). His first restaurant, Comfort, uses reinvented southern classics, putting Richmond on the map as a culinary destination. After years of serving acclaimed classics and drinks (like their Dolly Parton themed drink menu), Alley decided to give back. As of March of 2018, Alley and his team started donating all profits from Comfort to FeedMore a Virginia food security charity.

“After being an active part of the Richmond Community for the last 15 years, we have decided that now it is time that we give back in a more permanent and meaningful way.” he wrote on Facebook, “We will donate our all of our net profits from the restaurant to fight food insecurity in and around Richmond.”

RECIPE: Jason Alley’s Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

After the success of Comfort, Alley opened Pasture, a southern small plate restaurant with an emphasis on local ingredients. Like Comfort, Pasture earned accolades and gained a loyal following. For his next venture, Flora, Alley looked a little further south. The Oaxacan-inspired cuisine from chef Sergio Gomez features classics like shark tacos alongside bar food, which comes in handy if you’re catching a show — Flora is also a music venue. Chef Alley will soon add to his empire with a gastropub-arcade called Bingo in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood.

VIDEO: Flora brings Mexican flair to the Fan District

For more from Jason Alley, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Also worth reading: Jason’s moving essay about sobriety in an industry that can make it tough. To find out how Alley navigates Richmond’s burgeoning culinary wonderland, follow him on CurEat.

CurEater Carrie Morey: Founder of Callie’s Biscuits & Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

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“The buttermilk biscuit is the purest and most simplest form of bread perfection. All my biscuit recipes start out as a buttermilk — it’s like a blank canvas.”

Carrie Morey knows a thing or two about biscuits. After all, she is the founder of Callie’s Biscuits and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, and ships the South’s favorite bread all over the country. She also serves those biscuits at her Hot Little Biscuit grab-and-go stores in Atlanta and Charleston. Callie’s Biscuits have been highlighted by Oprah, Martha Stewart, The Today Show, and many, many more.

VIDEO: Places We Love – Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

The accolades are well earned. Carrie and her team mix each batch of Callie’s Biscuits by hand–no mixers. It’s a classic technique, one that Morey’s mother, Callie White, passed down. Callie’s Biscuits were first made famous through White’s celebrated Charleston catering business. Morey combined her passion for business with her inherited recipe and brought the biscuits to hungry fans from coast to coast–all while raising a family of her own.

VIDEO: Around Carolina–Callie’s Charleston Biscuits

The success of Callie’s Biscuits has led to a tantalizing family of products. From classics like pimento cheese and ham biscuits to cinnamon biscuits and cocoa and cream cookies, Callie’s currently offers a wide variety of gourmet treats with a distinctly Southern accent.

VIDEO: Goldbely Makes Biscuits With Callie’s Charleston Biscuits’ Carrie Morey

Follow Carrie Morey on Instagram, or find Callie’s Biscuits on Facebook or Twitter. For more of Morey’s Lowcountry expertise check out her cookbook. Finally to find out what restaurants butter her biscuits, check her out on CurEat.

Also, because we love Callie’s, we are partnering with Carrie to give away a month’s worth of biscuits! Here’s how: Create a profile on the CurEat App and follow Carrie Morey. (She has great lists of where to eat and drink in Charleston and throughout the U.S.). Then comment “complete” on our biscuits post and you’re all set.

CurEater Sean Lilly Wilson: Chief Executive Optimist of Fullsteam Brewery

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“(We’re) moving ‘full steam ahead,’ but we’re looking backwards to our agricultural traditions and our beer making traditions in the south.”

Sean Lilly Wilson is the owner and the self-styled Chief Executive Optimist at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, NC. Fullsteam, under Wilson’s direction, brews foraged beers with ingredients they source from North Carolina farms. Wilson got his start in beer, by changing laws. After starting the movement to raise the ABV limits in North Carolina, Wilson decided to create a distinctly Southern beer. Fullsteam, “A Beer From The Beautiful South” was born.

VIDEO: to cure: Presents – Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam Brewery

Wilson’s beautiful beer has won plenty of awards. Wilson himself has been lauded, too, including three nominations by the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional. While others celebrate his work, Wilson makes to celebrate the work of others, including his support of North Carolina’s beer month.

VIDEO: Our State: Fullsteam Brewery Beers Showcase Plow-to-Pint Ethos

Fullsteam’s beers change with the seasons. When it’s hot, we like their Southern Basil. When the cold weather rolls through, we grab a First Frost.  The brewery’s “plow to pint” philosophy means they have a strong connection to farmers and growers. The brewery also focuses on the community, cultivating close relationships with makers and artists.

For more on Fullsteam check out their website or find them on Facebook. For more from Wilson, follow him on Instagram or Twitter. Finally if you want to see where he grabs a pint and a bite to eat, follow him on CurEat.

6 CurEaters Who Are Here for You on National Pizza Day

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It’s not a secret. We’re in love with pizza. If you follow us on social media, then you know we recently embarked on our inaugural “I Wish You Were Pizza” tour — inspired by CurEater Mattie Beason and Felicia Trujillo. While you may think we’re “pizza’d” out, we’re absolutely not. In fact, some of us eat pizza more than twice a week, which means we’ll definitely be eating a slice (actually slices) for National Pizza Day. If you want to follow suit, we found 6 lists to give you some inspiration.

Mattie Beason // “I Wish You Were Pizza” List 

CurEater Mattie Beason influenced the name of our pizza tour with his t-shirt and the name of his pizza list. To say Mattie really loves pizza is an understatement. If you are feeling really adventurous and you live in the Triangle, you can take your own pizza tour this week (maybe Valentine’s Day) with Mattie’s “I Wish You Were Pizza” list. And if you’re in Baltimore, you can check out Hersh’s Pizza.

Vivian Howard // “Inspiration for Benny’s Big Time” List 

CurEater Vivian Howard recently opened Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington, NC. (We’re already planning a road trip to the Big Time.) We were overjoyed when she created a list of pizzerias that inspired her. Vivian’s taste doesn’t lie, so we know that each place on her list definitely hits the pizza mark. From NYC to Phoenix, you’ll 100% find a spot to fall in love with pizza all over again.

Robert Alexander // “Pizza” List 

CurEater Robert Alexander is the Master Baker at H&F Bread Co. in Atlanta, so we know his pizza list is top notch. For all you Atlanta natives and those traveling to ATL, you now have 4 solid pizzerias to choose from to celebrate the National Pizza Day today and everyday.

Bob Peters // “My Favorite Pizza Places” List

Bob Peters is a cocktail artisan and the Creative Director of Bar Operations of The Punch Room at The Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, NC. When Bob Peters creates a cocktail, we know we are about to sip something that will change our lives. Literally. He knows how to make a solid cocktail. Seeing that we trust him to blow our minds with a creative cocktail, we trust he knows good pizza. He did create a list for his favorite pizzerias in Charlotte, after all.

Amber Faulisi // “Fav Pizza spots in the USA” List 

Pizzeria Faulisi in Cary, NC was the first stop on our “I Wish You Were Pizza” tour. We hearted everything about it, especially the interior. When it comes to finding the best pizza in the U.S., you can 100% count on Amber Faulisi to know the right spots. She has places listed from New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Oregon. Thank you, Amber, for making all our pizza dreams come true on National Pizza Day.

Kevin Getzewich // “Pizza N Breakfast or Lunch” List

CurEater Kevin Getzewich, Executive Chef at One Broad Street, gives you two pizzeria options in Charleston. Sometimes it’s better to have just a few options that you know for a fact will be amazing. We’ve wanted to try Luke’s Craft Pizza for a while now, and we plan on doing so when we are in Charleston for the Charleston Wine and Food Festival. We’re coming for ya, Luke!