October 22, 2016

NCFOOD is the North Carolina Folklife Institute’s blog exploring our state’s traditional cooking and foodways. Every highway and byway in the state is a potential jumping off point for a food adventure, whether discovering the Restaurante Rosa de Saron in Sampson County or the Pakse Café in Greensboro.

You’ll find stories and personal experiences about farmers and food artisans, local recipes, and great traditional eateries -- a celebration of the rich and diverse food traditions of North Carolina. Celebrate the magic that happens when many cultures come together around a common table.

The Great Pumpkin Diaries, Pt. III

Text by Frances Dowell, photos by Randi Byrd And then there were two. When we last visited Randi Byrd’s pumpkin patch, she was down to three plants, having lost one to stem damage (assailant unknown) and another to survival of the fittest (i.e. Randi plucked that sucker right out of the ground to make room for the healthier plants to grow). Who knew that, only moments after our last report, the vine known as 1522 … [Read more...]

“Fast Food” at the Orange County Speedway

Text by Sol Weiner, photos by Sol Weiner and Anna Keneda When I think of the Orange County Speedway—when I picture it in my mind—it sizzles like the grease on a flattop grill. On alternating Saturday nights from March through October (with a few extras and exceptions), the Orange County Speedway in Rougemont hosts stock car races on what they call “America’s Fastest ⅜ Track.” Saturday nights feature five to … [Read more...]

Poitín and The Great Wagon Road Distilling Company

Text and Photos by Caroline Miller The Great Wagon Road Distilling Company in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood is the first distillery in North Carolina to have its own bar, The Broken Spoke. My friends and I wandered into The Broken Spoke one summer afternoon after enjoying a delicious pint at Sugar Creek Brewery next door. As I perused the drink offerings, I was surprised and delighted to see poitín listed on … [Read more...]

Visit the Goats

Text and photos by Ray Linville If you like artisan cheese, visit the creamery where it’s made. Even better, get introduced to the animals. If you like chevre, a word we borrow from French for goat cheese, don’t forget to talk to the goats. When Paradox Farm held Spring Farm Day and opened its property in the Sandhills to visitors, I learned more about its goats and cheesemaking. Its creamery was open for … [Read more...]

The Great Pumpkin Diaries, Pt. II

Text by Frances Dowell Photos by Randi Byrd The last month in Randi Byrd’s pumpkin patch has been a nail biter. In May it was all good news—the seedlings bursting forth in their little seed cups, tiny leaves unfurling and then almost immediately entering into a gangly, adolescent stage. Mid-May, five plants were transplanted into the prepared patch, protected from the sun by shade cloth, beautifully … [Read more...]

Vit Goal Tofu

Text and photos by Evan Hatch Vit Goal Tofu Restaurant is elusive. The restaurant is situated around two corners, up a hidden drive, at the end of a nondescript strip mall, hidden behind a Big Lots that is difficult to access. Though centrally located minutes from I-40, near the crossroads of NC 54 and Hwy 55 in Durham, Vit Goal is a difficult destination to reach on the first try. However, the journey, and … [Read more...]

El Restaurante Ixtapa

Text and images by Sol Weiner On a recent lunch break, fellow NC FOLKer Evan Hatch insisted that we go to El Restaurante Ixtapa in downtown Hillsborough. I’ve been hearing friends talk for months about Ixtapa’s no-frills combination of surf-and-turf options typical of Guerrero-style Mexican food. As Latino migration to North Carolina continues to grow, more and more states and regions in Latin America are being … [Read more...]

A Gift from the Cake Lady

Text and images by Evan Hatch I just left Tommy and Adell Coley’s house in Baptist Grove, near Fuquay Varina, North Carolina. I interviewed Mrs. Coley for a folklife field study that NC Folk is conducting for the Harnett County Arts Council.  Adell is the first of almost 30 area artists and tradition bearers to be interviewed. Before I was invited into her home at 8 am that morning, all I knew about her was … [Read more...]

The Great Pumpkin Diaries

Text by Frances Dowell. Images by Randi Byrd. 240 lbs of gypsum, 80 lbs of lime, 50 lbs of kelp meal, 50 lbs of very well-aged chicken manure, and 30 lbs of bone meal went into the patch today. —Randi Byrd’s Facebook page, March 19, 2016   Every year Randi Byrd prepares the soil, chooses her seeds, and sets out to grow North Carolina’s biggest pumpkin. Randi is Community Engagement Coordinator … [Read more...]

Finding Festival Food in Vanceboro

Photos and Images by Leanne E. Smith The Vanceboro Strawberry Festival & Rescue Day celebrates its namesake fruit, but it is also a fundraiser and outreach event for the Vanceboro Rescue Squad.  The town has a population of around 1,000 people, and it is centrally located between several other Eastern NC towns, being about 26 miles from Greenville in Pitt County and 19 from Washington in Beaufort County, both … [Read more...]