Thursday, June 1, 2017

North Carolina Honeymoon - Through Our Bellies Part 1

I married my dream guy on April 29--Fiance has been upgraded to Hubby on the blog. Though it was typical of Wisconsin weather to be gorgeous the week prior to our wedding, we indeed had a rainy, unseasonably cold day. But that didn't stop us from having an amazing party. From what I can tell and have heard, everyone had a great time and the rain didn't get any of us down.

On the Monday after, Hubby and I left for North Carolina on our honeymoon. We are non-traditional and kept that pattern up when we planned where to go for a week. To say Hubby is a "Duke fan" is an understatement. He knows crazy facts and stats about players that would lead you to believe he and Coach K talk every day. So we started the vacation in Durham and by the end of the week, ended up in Asheville, North Carolina.

Though there is a ton we can share about NC as a whole, maybe another blog post will be for that. This post is going to be all about the amazing eats that we had while in tobacco country. Land of vinegar BBQ'd meats and homestyle eats, we never went hungry and every meal was superb. It's like comparing fantastic and spectacular.

Because of Hubby's Duke-love, his Facebook group of Duke fans provided us many options for meals in Durham. Though we couldn't go to all of them, we did enjoy a few and no one lead us foul (see what I did there).

Our first night  in Durham we checked out a restaurant called The Pit. It is known for it's full-hog BBQ options. The place was decently busy--we found a table by the windows and watched a rain storm come in. Our server was extremely informative and told us about their sauces and popular menu items. I went with the choice favorite on the menu, pork shoulder with a Lexington sauce. Hubby went with ribs--he even ordered us an appetizer of Pumpkin Corn Bread.
Welcome to heaven - the pumpkin corn bread with maple butter was sooooo good. Cooked in a cast iron pan, the bread had a crisp crust, but was warm and soft in the middle. The dollop of butter melted over the top and into the bread. I saved a piece for the end of my meal where as Hubby ate his portion right away.
 This meal goes down as my favorite of the vacation. I know.....right out of the gate????  But truly the shoulder was pull-apart perfect and the flavor was on point. The creamed corn and the mashed taters weren't too shabby either. For me this was honestly a perfect meal.
Hubby's ribs were quite delicious too....fell right off the bone. His potato salad had a bit too much mustard in it for me, but he loves his mustard.

And just when we thought we couldn't eat another bite, our server offered us dessert on the house for our honeymoon. How could we pass that up? Pecan Pie with caramel drizzle......I don't know if it was the food comma we were both already in, or if truly food is better in the south, but this pie was excellent. Clean plate club for us on that as well.

Across the street from this restaurant was this 'daughter of a mechanic's' ideal bar----Parts and Labor. It is actually an old repair shop and showroom that has been transformed into a very vintage, rustic bar and music hall. If it wasn't down pouring, I would have definitely stopped for a beer or two. Speaking of, I did enjoy quite a few local beers and wines while in town. That will be in another blog.

My aunt recently visited Asheville and gave us some pointers on great places to eat. It just so happens one of the places she recommended had a Durham location, Another Broken Egg Cafe. We stopped for breakfast on Tuesday morning before continuing our Duke campus tour. It's a cute place with tea cups and rustic decor on the walls.

I love all things "carbs" so when I saw specialty pancakes, I knew what I was going to have. And to this foodies' delight, they offered a trio (pick any three of their gourmet pancakes and get one of each.). Peach Cobbler was a no-brainer; my goat cheese obsession brought me to the blueberry lemon cheese option; and Bananas Foster was just filler. Who would have thought the bananas foster would win first in my belly....I loved this so much. The caramelized sauce soaked into the pancake and made it so decadent. Second would be the blueberry lemon--refreshing flavors. The peach cobbler was good, but needed more butter to bring flavor to it.
Hubby chose the caramelized pecan french toast. His was delicious as well and there was sooooo much food that we couldn't finish.

These monstrous breakfasts kept us full well past lunch, so what else would I get to tide me over until dinner except ice cream!
We managed to find the cafe while waiting for our tour of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. The cafe offered pre-packaged sandwiches and snacks, bottled waters and sodas, and dishes of ice cream. Butter Pecan was a perfect treat for an 80 degree day.

We worked up quite an appetite walking around the gardens, so we headed back to the Inn and got ready for dinner. Hubby suggested Italian, so we went through the provided suggestions and picked The Boot.

This place was rustic but with an Italian vibe. It smelled absolutely amazing when we walked in. What caught my attention was the cork wall they were in the process of building. I had much envy as I have a cork project of my own I want to complete and an only imagine how many corks they needed.

While we decided on our entrees, Hubby ordered us calamari and it was THE BEST I have ever had. The batter was light and flaky and the marinara was definitely homemade. We both joked about how the mini octopus calamari freak us out, but there wasn't a bite to eat left on the plate.

Hubby is a sucker for spaghetti and meatballs and tries it everywhere. He wasn't disappointed and enjoyed the meal. I ordered the oriechette pasta with Italian sausage, broccoli raab and pecorino. Though this had a little spice kick, it was very appeasing to my palette. I enjoyed watching other entrees come out of the kitchen and hearing satisfied diners rave about their food. Again, another solid choice.
The next day was our last in Durham before we started the trek to Winston-Salem. We had heard great things about the American Tobacco Campus area and decided to check it out. "When in tobacco country, go where things are named after it...right?"  Parking was a bit of a struggle, but once we found a garage, it was a pretty cool experience. The old Lucky Strike factory has been revamped into the entertainment district of downtown Durham. From where we entered the area, you wouldn't even know the Durham Bull Stadium was a part of it.

We ate at Tobacco Road Sports Cafe--it reminded me of TGI Friday's at Miller Park because its attached to the stadium. We again ordered an appetizer and were extremely impressed with the Fried Green Tomatoes. I had never had them but they were fried to perfection and the pesto salad went very well with it. Again....completely gone.

Hubby ordered the tacos for lunch and I chose the fried chicken sandwich. I didn't realize I ordered the food challenge portion (not really)--look at the size of that beast!!!! It was two very large chicken breasts with extra crispy coating. I don't know who could possibly finish that. Huge but so so so good again. I took one of the breasts off the sandwich and hubby snacked on it after his tacos were gone. I still couldn't even come close to finishing the sandwich.

So that's our experience in Durham--I would definitely go back and tour more of the city, and eat more BBQ! The area is so green and lush with vegetation and no mosquitoes!!!! Stay tuned for Winston-Salem and Asheville eats coming soon!

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