I got to hang out with some of my favorite food purveyors last night — Farmhand Foods, which distributes local, pasture-raised meats, and April McGreger of Farmer’s Daughter Brand, sweet-and-savory queen of all that is preserved or fermented. And I met Jay Murrie, owner of Piedmont Wine Imports, who paired wines from his collection of sustainable Italian varieties.
The event was one in a series of cool farm/food/artisan tie-ins presented by Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours and held in Durham and Orange countries. Taste Carolina tours, available in several cities, are an appetizing way to get a know a downtown while filling your belly (I speak from experience.) These new offerings are unique events that take the food-chef-farm-entrepreneur connection to a deeper level. Four evenings remain, and tickets can be purchased for bundled events in advance or bought separately a week before the event. (Last night’s was $45 a person.) See the schedule at the end of this post.
Our dinner, with mini-cooking demo, was held at Eastern Carolina Organics, a food distribution service in Durham that works with more than 100 organic farmers and sells to chefs, buying clubs, and more. ECO has a deep history of helping to grow our state’s sustainable farming movement. They’ve also sustainably retrofitted their new/old Durham digs and opened up space to like-minded groups. Yay for them!
So on to the food and wine. We started with half radishes topped with butter and salt. Creamy and tangy! That was served with Cascina Barisel Foravia Monferrato Bianco, a wine made of a grape called Favorita, Jay told us.
Drew Brown, a chef and Farmhand sales manager, prepared pork butt in a mustard rub — to perfection — and also bratwurst, served with a zippy coarse mustard. April offered up collard kraut and pickled green tomatoes. Loved them both. I could seriously make a meal of the kraut (OK, I practically did). The vino: Pietralta Chianti, made from Sangiovese grapes. While we ate, April taught us a simple way to pickle vegetables in brine.
For dessert (really all I needed was more pork butt), April made a strawberry and rhubarb preserves — yes, right in front of us, and gave us the recipe — and put a dollop or two over the panna cotta Drew had prepared the night before. April garnished it with cornmeal black pepper shortbread. Wish we’d gotten the recipe for that too! The final wine was light, sweet and fizzy — Cascina Barisel Moscato d’Ast.
Cheers to all for a lovely evening!
Here’s the rest of the Taste Carolina event lineup. Check out one, or all four!
April 30: Cackalacky Hot Sauce, Fullsteam Brewery, Pie Pushers, American Meltdown, and The Parlour: An Amalgamation. Beer, hot sauce, food trucks, and ice cream? Perfect! Learn about these five local companies while enjoying food and drink.
May 7: TOPO Vodka Distillery and The Crunkleton. Learn the art of the cocktail featuring local, organic vodka.
May 14: Durham Taquerias and LocoPops Tour. Come explore Durham’s taquerias followed by a tour of LocoPops!
May 22: Two Chicks Farm and Panciuto in Idyllic Hillsborough. Join us for a tour of Two Chicks Farm followed by dinner at Panciuto.