State Farmers Market
The State Farmers Market is open 365 days a year. The main open-air building houses a mix of local farmers selling seasonal fruits and vegetables, bakers proffering French bread and German baked goods and plant growers hawking flowers, trees and shrubs. In the upper building called the Market Shoppes, you’ll find North Carolina seafood, locally raised meats and classic Southern baked goods, pickles and preserves. And don’t forget that you can stop for breakfast or lunch at the State Farmer’s Market Restaurant or the NC Seafood Restaurant, also on the grounds.
Info: 1201 Agriculture St., Raleigh. statefarmersmarket.org
Southern Season is the largest gourmet grocery and kitchenwares store in the Southeast. Now there are even more reasons to meander the aisles: a new coffee bar, an ice cream parlor and a wine-tasting station. And then there’s the cooking school and Weathervane, the store’s restaurant.
The new owners have transformed this local food landmark into more than a place to shop for that hard-to-find ingredient or kitchen tool. They’ve made it a place to while away a few hours shopping, eating and drinking. Check out the store’s online event calendar and pick a day to visit based on what’s going on, which can include floral arrangement demonstrations, cookbook signings and beer tastings.
Info: 210 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill. southernseason.com
On the way to the beach, here are two not-to-be missed dining experiences. On the high end, stop in Kinston to dine at Chef & the Farmer. On the low end, stop somewhere to eat an eastern North Carolina cheese biscuit.
Chef & the Farmer
There is nothing quite like the Chef & the Farmer for miles around eastern North Carolina. Couple Vivian Howard and Ben Knight own the restaurant. She is the chef, twice a James Beard semifinalist, and he is the wine expert. It is one of those odd restaurants that can make diners feel welcome in the same space if they are there for a fine-dining special occasion or just want to grab a burger at the bar. Of course, that double cheeseburger will be topped with chimmichurri mayo, red onion pickle and white American cheese and served on a yeast roll. Howard is known for her modern, Southern-inspired fare. If you make the stop, be sure to order the pork belly skewers.
Info: 120 W. Gordon St., Kinston. 252-208-2433 or chefandthefarmer.com
If traveling Highway 64 toward the coast, you should start your trip early enough to stop for an Eastern North Carolina cheese biscuit. This crisp biscuit is baked with a hunk of hoop cheese in the center and has become a regional treat in Tarboro and farther east. They taste their best fresh from the oven, oozing melted cheese. Gerald Abrams claims to have been the first to serve them in a restaurant. He owns Abrams restaurants in Tarboro, Pinetops, Scotland Neck, Greenville and Ahoskie. (We wrote about these biscuits last year: goo.gl/60yBL). Others dispute his claim and a number of gas station grills and mom-and-pop restaurants now serve them.
Info: 609 W. Wilson St., Tarboro. 252-823-4522. For other locations, go to abramsweb.com
If your beach vacation takes you to the northern Outer Banks, stop at Art’s Place, a Kitty Hawk institution, for a hamburger. The beef is ground fresh daily. The patties are formed by hand. The chili is homemade. The fries are hand-cut. And a burger and fries are served on wax paper in a plastic basket. It doesn’t get any better.
Info: 4624 Virginia Dare Trail N., Kitty Hawk. 252-261-3233
Dewey’s Bakery is best known for its traditional Moravian cookies and sugar cake. But one thing it should be more well known for is its pink lemonade cake with lemon icing and decorated with a pink candy lemon wedge. It is sold as cakes, individual cake squares and cupcakes. (If you want to order a whole cake, it’s recommended that you call ahead.) In recent years, the bakery also has additional pink lemonade treats: cake pops, sandwich cookies, cheesecake and ice cream. Yummy!
Info: 262 S. Stratford Road, Winston-Salem. 336-725-8321, cakebydeweys.com