Hot On The Biscuit Trail In North Carolina
Biscuits were on the top of my must-do list during a fun and very filling weekend visit to see friends in The Triangle, aka North Carolina's closely located cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. When starting down the biscuit trail on a Sunday morning, I had no idea we'd end up eating SO MANY, and it was just the tip of the flour-y iceberg. Already dreaming of a return trip, but until then, here are a few highlights, from humble to high class.
There are 54 Biscuitville locations in North Carolina and Virginia, all on an admirable mission to keep things fresh. Hot biscuits are baked on the regular, with customers getting a glimpse of the process through a glass window into the kitchen. There's a long list of options, but the country ham sandwich is a study in salty perfection. Biscuits are made with locally milled flour, buttermilk and shortening. They're wonderfully flavorful and tender, yet sturdy enough to hold the fillings. Bring your four-legged friend and hit the drive-through, where doggies are offered their own biscuit. For free!
These beauties look as if they were created by a pastry chef, sitting tall and golden on the plate, and, guess what? They are the work of a seasoned pro. Owner/baker Phoebe Lawless — formerly at the legendary Magnolia Grill — treats biscuits with the same care showered on the beautiful pies and pastries displayed in the gorgeous case in this cozy bakery in downtown Durham. Try the unbelievably good sorghum butter smeared on one, split and toasted. Pimento cheese, Aunt Helen's Pepper Relish and house-made bacon jam are among the other tempting biscuit topping options.
Gracious Jennings Brody delivered a hot, toasted biscuit while I was rambling through her creatively curated gift shop/cafe, and heaped praise on her husband for the buttery, cheddar cheese creation to her husband. "It's his recipe," she said, proudly. Nice work, mister. Huge bonus points for being able to eat while shopping, the best kind of multi-tasking.
Traffic can get snarled at this crazy popular drive-through in Chapel Hill, but fortunately, the crackerjack crew cranks out the orders swiftly. I went LARGE, ordering a meaty 2-fer, a pork chop AND a fried chicken, both truly outstanding, the latter even made it back across country tucked into my carry on and was so, so good even day old. It has a lot to do with the ratio of meat to biscuit. It's not too much, just enough. Sunrise's excellent work has been featured on Splendid Table and the Travel Channel.
5) Neal's Deli
The incredible cured meats piled in between a split buttermilk biscuit are as famous as the stellar bread product, with the amazing pastrami biscuit serving as a huge draw at this snug spot in Carrborro, just west of Chapel Hill. It's a team effort that inspires a case of the warm and fuzzies with owner Matt Neal heading up the charcuterie projects and his wife, Shelia, overseeing the exceptional biscuits. It's essential to arrive early if you want to score a biscuit because they do fly out the door, especially on Wednesdays, when the shining star is a sweet potato version.
If this has inspired you to DIY, check out these biscuit recipes.