Monthly Archives: February 2011

REVIEW: North Carolina Barbecue Company

Barbecue is something that a lot of North Carolinians take for granted. No matter where you live in the state, you are pretty much only a few miles away from a barbecue joint serving up some really good ‘cue. If you don’t believe me, you need to go pick up a copy of The Best Tarheel Barbecue: Manteo to Murphy written by Jim Early, the founder of The North Carolina Barbecue Society. This book is my go-to place for finding out about barbecue joints that I have never been to and I consider it the North Carolina barbecue bible.

We all have had friends that were raised in North Carolina or lived here for years that have moved away. If you ask the majority of them what they miss most about North Carolina, they will probably say the Southern hospitality, their friends, Cheerwine and the barbecue. Every time that I post something on Facebook about going to a North Carolina barbecue restaurant, one of my out-of-state friends comments on the post asking if I will mail them some because they miss it so much.

That is where Rick Scott and Ryan Pitz, the f0unders of the North Carolina Barbecue Company, come in. Their goal is to provide the nation with a true representation of the two distinct styles of North Carolina barbecue; the Piedmont (Lexington style) and the Eastern style through mail order barbecue. The flagship product of the North Carolina Barbecue Company, The Battle Box, does exactly that.

Taps & Tapas at Darryl’s featuring Duck-Rabbit Brewery

Last month, I went to the inaugural Taps & Tapas event at Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill in Greensboro. Taps & Tapas is a dinner and beer tasting but it is also a little more than that. It is an educational experience in beer. Each month, Darryl’s features a different brewery and they invite a few people in the craft beer industry to create a panel to talk about the twenty different beers that will be tasted throughout night.

The Taps & Tapas event was held in Darryl’s theater room which is a secluded section of the restaurant with a separate sound system from the restaurant and projector. There was a slideshow going on throughout the night from the projector with pictures from the featured brewery and they had a microphone hooked up to the sound system so everyone in the room could hear the panel. The seating was set up like a classroom at large tables so everyone is looking straight at the panel.

The first Taps & Tapas featured brewery was Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery out of Farmville, NC. It is a small craft brewery that started in 2004 and, since then, has become well known in the industry as the dark beer specialists. We got to try almost all of the Duck-Rabbit’s beer with the exception of a few seasonal. They gave each Taps & Tapas attendee a Duck-Rabbit pint glass and a bottle of water to clear your palate between drinks.

Here is the list of the Duck-Rabbit brews tasted throughout the evening:

  • Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale
  • Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale
  • Duck-Rabbit Wee Heavy Scotch Ale
  • Duck-Rabbit Porter
  • Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout
  • Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter

The Taps & Tapas panel for the evening consisted of:

  • David Armstrong – the owner of The Brewer’s Kettle in High Point
  • Warren SanGeorge – the Triad Area Manager of Tryon Distributing
  • Robert Owen – a representative from Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery

They were all very knowledgeable about the beers that we were tasting and shared their knowledge about a good way to taste beer and open up your palate to new styles and types of beer as well as understand what you are tasting. The beers are served in 4 oz flight glasses paired with menu items from Darryl’s. The panel walked us through the four beers and then Jeff Blackley, Darryl’s chief culinary officer, came out and walked us through the menu items. Darryl’s also provides a sheet to mark down tasting personal notes about the beer and with a sliding scale from 1 to 7 to remember which ones you really liked and might drink again.

REVIEW: The Silos Restaurant – Oriental

As you drive the 30 miles of Highway 55 between New Bern and Oriental, a small harbor town on the Neuse River in Pamlico County, you don’t pass by a whole hell of a lot other than a few small towns and acres of farmland. There are a few restaurants along the way but the majority of them are fast food so there isn’t much to choose from.

However, there are a few hidden gems along the way and I have found one and it is pretty hidden even though it is right out in the open. The Silos Restaurant (Silos…as the locals call it) resides in the skeleton of two renovated farm silos on the outskirts of Oriental so you might accidentally drive right by it if you didn’t notice the sign in front or all of the cars filling up the parking lot. It is definitely a local favorite.

Silos has one of the best craft beer selections in all of Oriental in their renovated bar in the upstairs dining room. They have a variety of different bottled beers plus 12 beers on draft. Even though Silos isn’t located on the water, this is the place where a lot of people go to tip back some cocktails and have a good time. They aren’t open very late because the Oriental community wakes up early and goes to bed early so make sure you are up there by 7pm or 8pm at the latest.

Doug and Keri Delisle, the owners of Silos, classify their restaurant as a unique restaurant with Italian flair offering a casual family dining experience and I definitely agree with them. They serve burgers, pizza, steaks, seafood, Italian dishes and a variety of sandwiches and salads. It is a pretty large menu. I spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out what I wanted.

I ordered a side Caesar salad as an appetizer. The salad came with homemade salad dressing, freshly baked croutons and some high quality Parmesan. It was pretty inexpensive for the amount that I got and the lettuce was extremely fresh.

I ordered the day’s special which was a two-topping medium pizza for nine dollars. Silos makes their own pizza dough and Doug, the owner, puts his homemade sauce on the pizza which is sweet and tangy. The crust was cooked perfectly. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Their toppings are topnotch and the cheese is very high quality. They offer pepperoni, ham, sausage, beef, bacon, salami, onions, green peppers, garlic, mushrooms, black olives, tomato, olive oil (not sure if this is a topping or not but its on their list), banana peppers and pineapple.

I want to give something else a try the next time I go down there to check out the rest of the menu but I think I would be hard pressed to try something else because the pizza was so good. I am sure their Italian dishes are equally as good. If you are driving down towards Oriental, you should definitely stop in Silos and get a bite to eat.

The Silos Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Hardee’s/Red Burrito Restaurants Offer Buy One, Get One for a Penny on Lincoln’s Birthday

Across the state, Hardee’s/Red Burrito, a dual-branded restaurant with the North Carolina burger chain & a fast-food Mexican restaurant, are observing Lincoln’s Birthday tomorrow by offering special penny deals during breakfast (bacon, egg & cheese biscuits), lunch and dinner (Southwest chicken soft tacos). It is a basically buy one, get one free but with an added penny.

In the Greensboro area, most of the Hardee’s locations have added on Red Burrito to offer a few more menu items. I tried Red Burrito’s chicken soft tacos a few weeks back and thought they were good. The shredded cheese and lettuce were fresh and the chicken was juicy with a nice spice on it. It is definitely a step-up from anything that Taco Bell is selling these days.

Click below for a list of all the participating restaurants across the state.

Skillet Fried Chicken Tuesdays at Lucky 32 in Greensboro

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro has a new Tuesday night special that I think will have foodies coming out for a taste of the South. Every week on Tuesday, they will be cookin’ up some skillet fried chicken (breast, leg and a wing per order) that is pan-fried in Cane Creek’s locally-rendered pork fat served with mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, collard greens and a hunk of dipping cornbread for $17. It is a bit pricey for a fried chicken dinner but the quality of the meal that Lucky 32 will put it front of you will be well worth it.

If that doesn’t make your heart stop, Lucky 32 will also have singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett performing some great Southern music from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. in the restaurant. Dossett has been associated with the North Carolina Symphony, the local music and regional folklore from multiple plays at Triad Stage and her band, Polecat Creek. Levon Helm, one of the original members of The Band, covered her song, “Anna Lee”, on his Grammy-winning album, Dirt Farmer. She has also performed on Prairie Home Companion and at MerleFest.

If you consider good fried chicken to be KFC or Bojangles’ then I implore you to save up some cash and head up to Lucky 32 on a Tuesday to see what real skillet fried chicken tastes like.

Real fried chicken doesn’t come in a bucket!

Pulliam’s in Winston-Salem ranked “Best Hot Dog in the South”

Congratulations to Pulliam’s Barbeque in Winston-Salem because, according to the Winston-Salem Journal, they have been named the best hot dog in the South by Every Day with Rachel Ray Magazine. I have never really been a huge fan of Rachel Ray. Her personality kinds of pisses me off a little bit because she is overly peppy and her catch phrases really grind my gears. However, she does cook a lot with hot dogs with slightly disgusting recipes like Mac and Cheese Dog Casserole and Hot-Dog-a-Bobs so I guess we should consider her somewhat of an expert in this area.

However, she wasn’t actually the one touring the country and tasting the dogs. Every Day with Rachel Ray hired out the job to three bloggers over at SeriousEats.com, one of our favorite foodie sites, to travel the country and find America’s best hot dog. It sounds like an awesome job (which I would gladly accept…hint hint…) but it might be a little while before I wanted to eat a hot dog again…no matter how good it is.

Credit: SeriousEats.com

Pulliam’s specializes in the Southern style dog: mustard, chili, slaw & onions. They serve a classic Southern red dog then grill/char the bun and add a little bit of their homemade hot sauce (optional). If you crack up a bottle of Cheerwine alongside that, it sounds like you’re pretty much in hot dog heaven. The Roast Grill in Raleigh and Pauly Dogs in Durham also made the brackets but got knocked out in the first and second round, respectively.

Thanks to Yarddawg for passing this one along to us! We are going to Pulliam’s Barbeque to give their dogs paired with a bottle of Cheerwine soon so stay tuned for a review in the next month or two.

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Do you feel like your favorite North Carolina hot dog spot got left out? Post a comment below and let us know so we can check it out!

J S Pulliam Barbeque Incorporated on Urbanspoon

Jolly Skull Beer Fest 2011 – Greenville

Last Friday, I drove down to my ol’ college stomping grounds, Greenville, NC, to attend the 1st annual Jolly Skull Beer Festival. It was my first beer festival so I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into but I was pretty excited for it. The list of breweries in attendance at the Jolly Skull was pretty strong ranging from newcomers like Good Vibes Brewing out of Wilmington, NC and Craggie Brewing Company out of Asheville, NC to America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling, in Pottsville, PA.

The parking lot was packed and people were filing into the convention center as the festival began. I saw a lot of excited faces heading into the festival talking with their friends about their favorite breweries and the various beers that they were excited about trying at the festival. The festival goers were a mix of ages from the young 21 to 25 year old college crowd to members of the baby boomer generation. Even though there was a huge age gap, everyone at the festival was motivated by one common thing: good beer.

The state of North Carolina is known for a variety of things around the nation including the fictional Mayberry, pork barbecue, college basketball and the furniture industry but it is quickly becoming known as one of the top craft beer producing states in the southeast and the nation. In 2009, Asheville shared the title of BeerCity USA with Portland, OR as voted by the readers of Examiner.com. In 2010, Asheville took the title by a little over 824 more votes than Portland. This is a huge step for North Carolina’s craft beer industry.

That is where “The General” Dustin Canestorp and his Beer Army come in. Canestorp has been a strong force in raising the awareness of craft beer throughout eastern North Carolina with festivals and beer dinners. Beer Army’s mission is to develop a robust craft beer scene and community in eastern North Carolina. Canestorp feels the best way to accomplish this goal is by hosting premier festivals like the Jolly Skull Beer Festival and the Brew Bern Beer Festival in New Bern during July.

Beer Army is a philanthropic organization and used the Jolly Skull Beer Festival as an opportunity to support local charities. Beer Army raised money for Give 2 The Troops which is a non-partisan, non-political, patriotic organization aimed at supporting the physical, moral and spiritual health of America’s armed forces in combat zones around the world through letters and packages prepared and shipped by caring volunteers. Beer Army also donated money to the North Carolina Brewer’s Guild. The North Carolina Brewer’s Guild’s intent is to support the beer communities in the state and guide the craft beer aficionados by providing the one source that allows access to the breweries, brewers and their beers  where ever they are served, presented and celebrated.

At the Jolly Skull Beer Festival, each festival goer received a four ounce tasting glass with the Beer Army logo on it, a Beer Army pen and a festival program with a map of all the booths at the festival & a checklist with information about every single beer at the festival. Tickets were $30 in advance and $40 at the door but if you were able to try half of the beers then you got your money’s worth.

Breweries weren’t the only businesses in attendance. Some local restaurants and bars showed up like Winslow’s Tavern in Greenville, the Weeping Radish Deli in Grandy and TieBreakers Sports Bar & Grill in Greenville. All of them were serving up some food that smelled delicious but I never got my hands on. G-Vegas Magazine, the local nightlife magazine in Greenville, and Beer Magazine had a table as well as Coastal Beverage Company, one of the top beer distributors in the state, and a few of Beer Army’s philanthropies (Project Guardian Angel & Give 2 The Troops).

Here is the commercial for the Jolly Skull Beer Festival:

Here are the breweries in attendance (North Carolina breweries in bold):

  • Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
  • Redhook Ale Brewery
  • Lonerider Brewing Company
  • Kona Brewing Company
  • Wolf Beer Company
  • WM Magner Ltd.
  • Michelob Brewing Company
  • Kind Beers
  • Thomas Creek Brewing Company
  • Good Vibes Brewing Co.
  • Tommyknocker Brewery
  • Starr Hill Brewing Company
  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • Abita Brewing Company
  • Carolina Brewery
  • Blue Point Brewing Company
  • Gordon Biersch Brewing Company
  • Sweetwater Brewing Company
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
  • Matt Brewing Company
  • Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery
  • Foothills Brewing
  • New Belgium Brewing Company
  • Anchor Brewing Company
  • Blue Moon Brewing Company
  • Green Mountain Beverage
  • St. George Brewing Company
  • Yuengling Brewery
  • Heavy Seas Beer
  • Spoetzl Brewery
  • Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
  • Magic Hat Brewing Company
  • Pyramid Brewing Company
  • Harpoon Brewery
  • Great Lakes Brewing Company
  • Craggie Brewing Company
  • Pabst Brewing Company
  • Front Street Brewery
  • Weeping Radish Farm Brewery
  • Down East Alers

I had a great time at the beer festival but I think that the one of the major highlights was Foothills Brewing debuting their very delicious and sought-after seasonal stout, Sexual Chocolate, at the Jolly Skull Beer Festival. Each year, Foothills only releases a limited amount of this beer. They bottle a very, very limited amount only sold out of their brewery and distribute the rest to the top tier restaurants & bars that also serve other Foothills beer throughout the year.

The Down East Alers, a local home brewing club in Greenville, had a long booth with about 9 different types brews that they were letting people taste. They had four different types of mead (honey wine) and a variety of different beers. I really enjoyed talking with the guys in Down East Alers as I tried their beers because their passion for their beer was unmatched by anyone else at the festival. I also enjoyed finding out about Good Vibes Brewing Co. which started a few months ago down in Wilmington and had a great flagship I.P.A. called The Experience.

At the festival, I got the chance to talk to almost all of the North Carolina breweries about the state of the North Carolina craft beer industry and where they think it going over the next few years. I’ll be doing a series of short posts about the conversations that I had with these North Carolina breweries over the next few weeks so stay tuned.

If you like craft beer, you should definitely try to make it down to New Bern in July for Beer Army’s 2nd annual Brew Bern Beer Fest in July or try to make it to next year’s Jolly Skull Beer Festival in Greenville this time next year.


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