Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Otto NC: Shearl Produce and Garden Center

I finally stopped at Shearl Produce and I'm very glad I did. It is located on US 23 just over the North Carolina border, on the way to the Smokies.

As you can see, they have a well-stocked selection of all sorts of produce. In the back, they have some refrigerators with Amish butter and some meats. As with most farm stands, they carry a mixture of local produce and items from farther away. The owners were very helpful; they explained that the local strawberry crop wasn't yet ready. I took home some very nice South Carolina strawberries and some dried beans. I will definitely be back and soon----I look forward to some local strawberries.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Brunch at Harvest Habersham

Harvest Habersham is perhaps the best restaurant in the north Georgia mountains. A drive to see the progress of spring gave me an opportunity to try their brunch.

This is my pasta, a freshly made pappardelle. The accompaniments included ricotta, greens, and some peanuts (and are those macadamia?). Of course, this being the South, it also included bacon cut into little tiny squares. The sauce was light, with just enough butter to give it some heft. All the flavors played together beautifully.

For dessert, I ordered this wonderful panna cotta. The custard was complemented with fresh strawberries; a hint of basil gave the dish the perfect amount of zip.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Asheville NC: Abeja's House Cafe

I had a wonderful breakfast at Abeja's House Café. The parking lot was busy on a Sunday morning and the restaurant was full. This is a family operation, with parents and kids all helping out. Their pride of accomplishment shows in their service. They specialize in local, natural ingredients lovingly prepared.

Here is my Greek omelet. All the flavors came through very clearly. The feta cheese was creamy. The olives gave a superb contrast with their saltiness and bitterness. The eggs were very fluffy. The biscuit was of the beaten variety and huge. The potatoes mixed white and sweet.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Asheville NC: Buxton Hall

Buxton Hall is in the uber-hip South Slope neighborhood of Asheville; I half expected to see an M line subway stop next door. As you can see, the space is very large, as befits a former roller skating rink. The service is extremely gracious and courteous. They also do a good job of clearing tables as people leave to make room for the long lines of patrons.

The main dishes are pulled pork, chicken (BBQ or fried), and the ribs. I wanted to gnaw on some bones so I ordered the ribs. The meat has a nice smoky flavor. The texture is definitely toothy. Overall, I found it to be a bit of a dog whistle experience. I consider BBQ to be a visceral pleasure. These ribs, superbly prepared as they were, still registered as a cerebral pleasure. I loved both the vegetables. The greens were flavorful without being overpowering. The root vegetables were largely sweet potato, perhaps some other things, and covered with a great peppery gravy.

The baked goods are superb. This is my strawberry pie. Being strawberry season, I couldn't pass this up and I was very pleased. The sweetness and tartness of the strawberries came through perfectly; the pie wasn't over-sweetened. The real whipped cream on top was also appropriately sweetened and very rich. All the desserts, on display on the way in, looked superb.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pittsburgh: The Strip

The Strip is one of Pittsburgh's old neighborhoods, once at the edge of a steel mill. The mill is gone but the Strip remains and thrives as Pittsburgh's gourmet destination. It has earned this spot through a century of dedication to food that pays respect to the Old Country, wherever that may be. Some of the Strip's businesses have been there for a century. They represent the range of peoples who flocked to this country and to Pittsburgh to build a nation and better lives for their families. Here are a few random shots from this fascinating neighborhood.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pittsburgh: Pamela's P&G Diner

I had a very enjoyable breakfast at Pamela's, just off the strip in Pittsburgh. It is exactly the kind of place you would hope for: hearty food and friendly service.

The décor is cheerful and homey; the photos seem to be part of a family collection, not a TGI Friday's-style assembly.

Here is my veggie omelet with cheese. It was hearty and tender, with nicely cooked vegetables. My driver told me that I had to try the home fries and he was right---they were the perfect combination of soft center and carmelized outsides. The bread was also of excellent quality. And the coffee just kept coming.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pittsburgh: Smallman Galley

Our conference committee met over an outsanding dinner at Smallman Galley. It is located just off the Strip in Pittsburgh---more on that in another post. The restaurant itself is a platform for smallish, quasi-popup restaurants from local chefs. We were served a wide variety of foods and everything was great. The service was great, too. The staff was very warm and friendly.

I was too busy talking to take any photos of the appetizers that floated around the room. But here are our main courses, which illustrate the mix of cuisines and styles.

And here is my plate. The vegetarian quesadilla was probably my favorite. That is a little grilled cheese sandwich on the right, made with a very soft cheese. On the left is a juicy, Pittsburgh-sized meatball and pasta.