After the fun and overstimulation at the NC State Fair, Miss Chef and I were ready for a rest. We headed back west, but only for a short trip, as we were staying with relatives in Chapel Hill. This was also the first real test of the navigation app on my new smart phone, and it made arriving in the dark so much easier!
We arrived to break up the tail end of a small birthday celebration, and were greeted with hugs and offers of more food and drink. After the guests left, we sat with Lolette and Paul and chatted for an hour or so, but then it was time for bed. Miss Chef and I had an early morning planned.
As I explained a couple of posts ago, Miss Chef sources as many ingredients for the school restaurant as she can from local farms, going every Saturday to at least one farmers’ market. Even though we were out of town this weekend, the restaurant still needed its supplies. So naturally, we did some research and discovered that the Carrboro Farmers’ Market sounded like just the place for us.
Just as at Matthews farmers’ market at home, all the offerings must be produced within 50 miles of the market. However, I think there were more vendors at this market, and definitely a bit more variety…besides food there was art…
There was a bit more of a permanent structure too, which added to the overall charm of the place.
Oh look, there’s Miss Chef. She’s clutching an empty bag, so this must have been taken before the real shopping began.
And oh, what beautiful shopping there was!
Besides the usual list of kale, turnips, beets, chicken, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard and butternut squash, we found a few ingredients for our own kitchen. Two ducks we bought for our Christmas dinner ended up thawing by the time we got home…so I guess we’ll be enjoying an early preview of Christmas! We also bought eggs there, and Miss Chef found a local maker of peanut butter blends too intriguing to pass up. Chapel Hill Creamery, which won first prize at the State Fair for its take on Asiago cheese, deserved a visit too.
And then there was the interesting fellow selling traditional curatives, like slippery elm bark for headaches, and jewelweed tea to counter poison ivy. (We used to gather jewelweed in the woods and brew up tea every summer when I was a child. I was shocked to see this fellow selling a spray bottle for $15! If only we’d known…) Miss Chef couldn’t resist the bundles of sassafras roots that came with a simple recipe for brewing root beer…more brewed beverages are in our future, it seems.
Of course, as at any farmers’ market, there were lovely flowers, too.
This next picture makes me think of Bossy Betty and her Monday Morning Flowers.
Once we had the trunk of the car nearly full (we had brought a cooler from home, not wanting to take over Lolette’s entire refrigerator), it was time to fill our bellies. After all, we had gotten up at 6:30, and it was now after 9:00. Carrying all that meat and produce back to the car—three times—can sure work up an appetite.
After asking for recommendations from one of the vendors, and with a little assistance from my new smartphone (yay Google maps!), we walked a few blocks into the center of town, to find Elmo’s diner. It’s part of a shopping complex in a beautifully restored old mill. The space in the restaurant was wonderfully bright and welcoming.
Look at the richness of the wood flooring. It was like this through the entire mill, even showing a few dark circles burned into one spot, which made me wonder what kind of equipment might have scarred the wood. What a great sense of history has been retained here.
Unfortunately, the food wasn’t as superlative as the surroundings. It wasn’t bad, just not great. The orange juice was a bland, reconstituted mix, and some of the food came out cold. But some of it was pretty good, such as the sausage gravy and the gi-normous biscuits.
Here’s Miss Chef’s huevos rancheros, which, once she added some salt, she declared pretty good.
After leaving here, we bumped into a woman in the parking lot who chattered on about getting pies from the market…which intrigued us, of course. So we followed her just around the corner to the Weaver Street Co-op, a local grocery-type store which is like a mix between a farmers’ market and a Whole Foods. I didn’t take pictures, but we did of course manage to spend a bit more money there. sigh
We finally wended our way home, where Lolette was finishing up some retouching of a painting. She is an artist, having come to that calling a bit later in life than she would have if her artist father hadn’t discouraged her from following his example! I was happy to see her in her studio, as she’s mentioned in the past that sometimes she can’t seem to find the time (or motivation) for her work.
You may remember I mentioned in a previous post that one of my photographs from last summer’s stay in Paris sparked a bit of inspiration, and that Lolette had asked for a copy to paint from. As it turned out, that painting was a central piece in a show of hers in a local gallery, and we had one more day to stop in and see it!
Here’s a picture of the finished piece.
I decided that I like it better in person; the colors are richer and the lines better defined. Not only was I excited to see Lolette’s show, but I had a feeling Miss Chef would enjoy the gallery. Since we started planning our Big Trip way back in the spring of last year, she’s shown a real interest in more modern art, which I often don’t really “get.” So I was interested to see what she’d find appealing here.
In the meantime, Lolette worked the crowd!
She’s the one in the white shirt, and “my” painting is directly behind her and the other woman. All the other paintings on the walls are Lolette’s also. She does mostly landscapes and abstracts, as you can tell! She was kind enough to introduce me to her potential buyers, explaining that I took the picture upon which she’d based her painting. Well heck, if I’d known I was going to be a special guest, I’d have brought something nicer to wear! :)
There was some excitement outside the gallery, too. It just so happened that an annual event was scheduled the same weekend as our visit. The Paperhand Puppet theater was putting on a parade as we walked to the gallery. Here are a few snippets.
Above you see a typical mask in the foreground. In the background is a worm on a hook trying to escape a long eel or fish. Oh, and I see a frog in there, too. There was a lot to see!
Here’s another repeated theme—a tall bird with gossamer wings.
Here’s one in action! (This video stutters when I watch it; I don't know if it's because of our computer, or if it's just too big a file to stream over the internet.)
After our gallery visit, I couldn’t just walk past Matthews Chocolate shop, but we managed to limit ourselves to a couple of small bars, a truffle each, and some handmade marshmallows. Oh, and a flourless chocolate cookie. But that was IT! (Edited to add: those handmade marshmallows were beyond description. Sorry Stay-Puft man, you've met your match.)
After all this excitement, we headed home so Lolette could rest an achy knee. Miss Chef was hungry, though, having skipped lunch, so the two of us headed back out for “a snack.” At a wine bar, of course. Back into Carrboro we went, to Glass Half Full. I had a wonderful Sancerre, light and minerally, just the way I like my whites, and Miss Chef had her usual big bold Syrah. We also enjoyed some great tapas—a charcuterie plate and some fantastic brussels sprouts with a honey-lemon glaze and crunchy crushed peanuts. I didn’t take any photos, but I did manage to find some at this website.
Then we went home for a nap before dinner. Ha! This was certainly a food-centric weekend! I was happy to realize upon rising from bed that my growing headache had disappeared and I was ready to head out again with Lolette and Paul.
Dinner was at Acme, a fine-dining restaurant with a seasonal menu highlighting local ingredients—just the place I knew Miss Chef would enjoy. When I had come on a visit with my parents last February, we ate here also, and I had hoped to return with Miss Chef. Again, no photos, but you can visit their website here. I can tell you that I had the wild game pasta bowl, with venison sausage and braised boar. Miss Chef had one of the specials, veal cheeks with a sweet corn and pumpkin spoonbread.
Phew, I’m feeling stuffed all over again just talking about it! Fortunately we were headed home Sunday morning, so were limited in opportunities to buy more food. What a fun weekend, even more so because we were able to visit relatives I haven’t seen much, and get to know this part of the state a bit better. We haven’t even made it to neighboring Raleigh yet, so chances are, we’ll be back!
This post is going up about ten days after the actual day. In the intervening weekend, we've made yet another trip, to the mountains. Once again, I'll be splitting that weekend into two posts, to come a bit later--I do have 216 photos and videos to sort through. At this rate, I'll be running into Thanksgiving!