Alfa Road Trip Day 5: Grady’s Barbecue, North Carolina (EATS)

August 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

This small, scrubbed clean family operation is an hour and 20 minutes from Raleigh and an hour inside the middle of nowhere. It’s run by a wife and husband team, Gerri and Steve Grady. 

We had the chopped pork with two vegetables. The pork is, according to ‘cue experts, an exemplar of eastern North Carolina style ‘cue: chopped fine with bits of skin, which had the texture of well-cooked chicken cartilage (something I think is delectable, for those of us who eat all the animal parts).

When I saw the option of a veggie plate on the menu, I wondered who in the world would come to a barbecue place to order vegetables? But then I ate a spoonful of the butter beans and got it. They’re the best I have ever had, cooked with fatty ham hock, resulting in a creamy, salty concoction I could eat over a bowl of rice.

We also ordered the squash, as it was taped onto the menu, which signaled to me it was a late addition thanks to fresh squash on hand.
The yellow summer squash was caramelized with onions to sweetness and had plenty of black pepper to add a spicy kick. We ended with perfect sweet potato pie. The filling was creamy yet light, bright orange, and just sweet enough. Gerri makes the sides; Steve makes the ‘cue and the pie.
When we went up to the counter window to tell Gerri how delicious everything was — especially those butter beans — she said she’s known around here for her butter beans. She insisted with a smile that we take her business cards, noting she does catering (smart), sign the book (especially when she found out we’d come all the way from NYC), and come back soon. Can’t wait.


Open only 10am-3pm or 4pm depending on the day so plan accordingly

3096 Arrington Bridge Road, Dudley, NC 28333. 919-735-7243

More to the story at the NC BBQ Society

Our First Alfa Road Trip: Eastern Shore, Maryland

July 29, 2015 § 8 Comments

We’ve been wanting to go on a road trip in the 1960 Alfa Romeo that the hubby restored from a rusted shell back in high school. This summer we finally took the plunge in this beauty.

We spent our first two days driving along pretty country roads and relaxing on the eastern shore of Maryland. We visited historic Chestertown, where we saw the hamlet’s oldest house, circa 1739 and owned by Sarah and Esau Watkins. An elderly lady walking her dog called out when she saw us, “I like your hat!” Three minutes later, we saw her again and she said, “I still like your hat.” Friendly folks!

We drove on to the tiny town of St. Michaels, on a claw of land jutting out into the Chesapeake Bay, along the tranquil waters of the Miles River. After a breakfast of a Miles River omelet, stuffed with Maryland lump crab, spinach and tomatoes… 


…we walked the gardens at the Inn at Perry Cabin, observing our insect friends… 


…picking blackberries and admiring the state’s flower (the black eyed susan) and the zinnia garden. 


We lazed about on the lawn and admired the hidden greenhouse…

…before walking to town to eat our five o’clock snack of a wood-fired margherita pizza and rose.

For dinner, we ventured to t at the General Store, where we dined on deliciously charred peaches on arugula with Marcona almonds and blue cheese, Maryland-made sage sausage atop mashed potatoes, and biscotti ice cream made in nearby Oxford with a raspberry tart. We also sampled the t’s teas; Matthew went for Slim and Tone, while I went for chamomile sweetened with local honey. An excellent start to the road trip.

Blackberry Farm in Pictures

June 19, 2011 § 12 Comments

I’m spending this summer in Nashville, Tennessee, helping the new Commissioner of Education┬áto create a three-year strategic plan to improve educational outcomes for all K-12 students in the state. Although the work will be intense and I’m away from my San Francisco garden, I’m soaking up what I can of the food culture here in the Volunteer State.

First up: Blackberry Farm near Knoxville, a celebration of locally-produced food, where the hubby, our friends, Jim and Katie, and I ate an enormous amount of Benton’s bacon, gorgeous tomatoes and other fresh produce grown on-site, and as you likely guessed, the best BLT I’ve ever sunk my teeth into. For you, our time in pictures…

The barn, where we indulged in many dinners and bourbons

The garden where the produce begins

What's the chicken thinkin'? Will my eggs be breakfast or will I be brunch?

Beautiful beans

John, Master Gardener, picking chard for our next meal

Volunteer sunflowers in the Volunteer State

Oregano and bachelor's buttons, whose petals will be tweezed for garnish

Serious tools for serious meals

Charming, unique and lovely

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