Eat Local, Drink Local: Springtime Edition

Heidi Billotto 2017 HeadshotTime for another edition of my Drink Local, Eat Local series, this time featuring two delicious ways to drink local, two savory ways to eat local and two eat local options to soothe our collective sweet tooth.

It is my pleasure to bring you these regular lists of ways you can support local vendors and producers, all artisans in their own rite, from across the Carolinas. Thanks to each of these local North and South Carolina based companies for supporting me in my efforts to spread the news – I do love what I do!


IMG_6155If you are reading this blog post upon release, then it is the morning of Friday March 9, 2018. If you are in the Charlotte viewing area, you’ll want to take some time this morning to tune into WCNC’s Charlotte Today hosted by my friends Colleen Odegaard and Eugene Robinson. The show airs live between 11 and noon and I’ll be there featuring each of these great products in one of my regular Eat Local, Drink Local segments.

No worries if you miss the live  TV airing, simply  come back to these pages later today or over the weekend and I’ll have an update on this post which will include the Charlotte Today  video, additional photos, easy to prepare food and drink recipes  and more info on how you can start Eating and Drinking Local.

Let’s start our early Spring Eat and Drink Local line up with a little something to wet your whistle…

Funny how I come to learn about all of these local products – sometimes its just by happenstance, other times its because brands and producers reach out to me, and sometimes these products are discoveries I have made as a result of travel across the Carolinas.

Such is the case with our first delicious way to Drink Local. I recently visited the Mills River NC location of Bold Rock Cider on a recent trip to Hendersonville , NC.  I was there with a group of bloggers from across the Carolinas, to do a tasting of all the restaurants participating in the first ever Hendersonville Restaurant Week which will take place March 15-24.

Black-Red-Circle-Logo-768x768If you follow my social media, you may have seen some of my food posts from my three-day eating extravaganza as we tasted our way through the nine of the dozen different Hendersonville, NC area restaurants all participating in Hendersonville Restaurant Week . You’ll learn more about the 10-day event, the participating restaurants and the wonderful excuse it will provide for an early spring  North Carolina mountain getaway in a dedicated post this weekend, but for now it will suffice to say that this tasting trip is what led me to discover today’s first Drink Local option…

Bold Rock Cider from Mills River, NC just outside of Hendersonville


Bold Rock in Mills River is the second production location for Bold Rock Cider which has its home base in Virginia.  With locations at both ends of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the brewers at Bold Rock can take the best of local apples and crush them for the finest of local cider. All of the Bold Rock Cider sold in North Carolina is produced at the Mills River Cidery where I was  delighted to taste their dozen or so current varieties of hard cider all made from Henderson County apples and eat some of the smokin’ good BBQ or steaks from their food truck, Bold Bites. It was a great way to drink local and eat local all at one stop.

IMG_3375As it happened my two personal favorite Bold Rock ciders were the seasonal offerings, and how lucky in this time between seasons that there were two. The Orchard Frost and the spring and summer’s new Rose – both light, crisp and delicious; and quite happily both readily available by the bottle of the six pack in Charlotte as well as across the mid Atlantic and Southeastern United States !  

Back in Mills River, Bold Rock has all sort of Henderson Restaurant Week specials including a big kick off  planned on March 14 with a dollar for every pint sold that day and evening going to Dandelion, a local Hendersonville eatery that is the cornerstone of  a job training program designed to provide help for families that are victim of domestic violence.

In addition to the Hendersonville Restaurant Week activities, Bold Rock makes good use of its food truck by host a regular Monday night cider and steak night and live music on the weekends. If you can’t get up to Hendersonville for all the fun, have no fear as all of the delicious brews of Bold Rock cider are available in grocery stores and in restaurants all around the Charlotte area. For more info follow Bold Rock on social media and visit the website at Bold Rock Cider  

Next a drink local option for the family to enjoy both in your glass, in your  cup of coffee or hot cocoa, or in a myriad of recipes, I give you…

Hickory Hill Milk  from Edgefield SC 

Hickory Hill Milk is whole milk, real buttermilk and chocolate milk,  the way milk was meant to be – pasteurized but not homogenized – so you have to shake it to serve before the cream rises to the top.  In Charlotte, artisan cheese maker Zack Gadberry of Uno Alla Volta Cheeses uses Hickory Hill Milk in some of his locally made cheeses and jut across the state line in Clemson, Hickory Hill is THE milk used to make Clemson Blue Cheese. You’ll learn more about Clemson Blue cheese below and  can read more about Uno Alla Volta cheeses in my post on Sweet  Potato Toasties.

hickory HillWatson and Lisa Dorn are the driving force behind the family run Hickory Hill Dairy, a fourth generation dairy farm established in the early 1950s. The dairy has been producing local milk since the beginning but it wasn’t until 2008 that Watson and Lisa decided to start amping up production, while still keeping the same quality and attention to detail, so that all of us across the Carolinas could enjoy this wonderful way to Drink Local.

Hickory Hill Milk comes from happy pasture raised Holstein cows  and is high in protein and vitamins and guaranteed to be rBGH (hormone) and antibiotic free. The milk at Hickory Hill is processed as little as possible assuring that natural flavors of real milk are what you will enjoy in your glass. The buttermilk is made by old time traditional recipes so as to keep in the natural probiotics that make buttermilk so good for you and is in particular  wonderful for baking. Don’t just take my word for it, why not try it for yourself? If you are looking for a great buttermilk biscuit recipe featuring Hickory Hill Buttermilk, you know I have you covered!

268226_10151166855156134_1028399043_nOne of the most interesting things about Hickory Hill Milk is the connection the South Carolina brand has with Clemson Blue Cheese, the first of today’s eat local options. Hickory Hill Milk is available in North and South Carolina and in parts of Georgia as well. In Charlotte you’ll find Hickory Hill Milk at the SouthPark locations of Whole Foods and in both locations of EarthFare. Want to see for yourself? Plan a trip to the farm for a fun and information tour! For more info visit them online and follow Hickory Hill Milk on Facebook!

Now, on to four delicious ways to Eat Local…

Clemson Blue Cheese from Clemson SC

First made in 1941 and aged in the limestone caves that make the Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel near the Clemson campus, this the original blue cheese of the Carolinas is now made right on the Clemson Campus.  After a bit of a downslump a decade or so ago when cheese production took a corporate and complicated turn, Clemson has taken back the production and is doing it, oh so right, to offer one of the only true blue cheeses crafted in the Carolinas!

IMG_3907This artisan cheese is  now made by hand with the original recipe and is salted and cured  and aged for 6 months before being packaged to sell.  The milk that makes the cheese comes from local Hickory Hills Farm, owned by Clemson Alum Watson Dorn and his wife Lisa and its the fine local milk teamed with the descrimating palate and talent of the Clemson Cheese making team that makes the delightfully rich and creamy still slightly salty cheese all it is.

You can purchase the blue cheese crumbles, wedges and the wonderful Clemson Blue Cheese dip and dressing just over the state line in Rock Hill at Bush-n-Vine. Or order larger wheels or quantities online directly from Clemson. To order and for more info visit Clemson Blue Cheese online 

No Evil Foods from Asheville NC 

Plant-Based diets are really trending in 2018. Sometimes vegan and vegetarian products just leave you flat – but I simply love this packaging and these products – all plant-based meats made from a delicious, well-seasoned  nutrient-rich blend of GMO free wheat protein and chickpeas and all the right spices and seasonings.

If you are not vegan or vegetarian – and even if you are –  don’t think of the products in the No Evil Foods line as meat substitutes, simply think of them as a plant-based way to get more protein into your daily diet – and a delicious way at that.  Use in place of regular Chorizo, bratwurst, sausage, BBQ and chicken in all of your favorite recipes for tons of flavor without all the fat. No Evil Foods are available across the country and in Charlotte at both locations of Whole Foods.


Use any of the No Evil Foods in your favorite recipes for a wonderful boost of flavor just as I used the plant-based Chorizo in my oh so easy 30 minute or less Paella recipe in a post released a week or so ago.

For more info visit No Evil Foods online and follow them on all your social media feeds, too!

And now on to this edition’s sweeter side of eating local:

Potts Chocolates  from Charlotte NC

A local bean to bar chocolatier owned by Blair and Margo Potts on Cedar Street in Uptown Charlotte in the Foundry building. Potts chocolates specializes in custom made bars and all sorts of seasonal truffles.


Here is just a taste of what life is like in a box of Potts Chocolate: Pictured below a 16 count box perfect for gift giving or treating yourself.  The box includes four Gianduja chocolate filled truffles with Potts’ vegan offerings of the “I Do” bourbon candied pecan truffle, the macadamia nut heart truffle, the spiced pistachio triangle truffle, and then multi Faceted hazelnut truffles.  You’ll also find  two single bean truffles here: the classic with a Madagascar cream ganache and the Queen Charlotte truffle made even more royal in the shape of a crown, filled with a Belize cacao butter ganache.  Finally the offerings are made even sweeter with the inclusion of Potts’ Espresso domed truffles made with Venezuelan cocoa and Pure Intentions Coffee ( another of my favorite ways to Drink Local – read more here)  and the lightly sea salted caramel truffles, oh my!  

I know,  I Know…the chocolatey goodness here goes on for days and I love that the beans are dried and roasted on site and  each truffle is hand crafted.

IMG_1718Want to learn more? Chocolatiers and owners Blair and Margo Potts host  a truffle tasting each month in the lobby inside the Foundry directly behind the Potts storefront Uptown on Cedar Street. This month its March 15, 2018 and -you heard it here first –  the truffle of the month is going to be an exciting all local pairing of Potts Chocolate and Muddy River Rum. Not sure which beans or which rum just yet – that will all be unveiled at the tasting, but I am proud to say I am the one who brought these two local brands together!  And, did I mention that our own Tom Billotto will be at the March truffle release providing the entertainment with guitar and vocals – its a win-win-win! I do love what I do!  For more info visit Potts Chocolate online and to make reservations for the March Truffle Tasting visit the event page on Facebook. 

Paige’s Designer Cookies From Charlotte NC  

These are cookies like you have never seen or tasted before.

FullSizeRenderDelicious fresh baked regular and chocolate sugar cookies to die for – but what makes these so very special is that each one is hand decorated with a custom, one of a kind design! The are incredible!

CLM Cover Winter 2018 FoodSo incredible, in fact that one of creator Paige Gesing’s cooking is on the cover of the Winter 2018 issue of Charlotte Living magazine. The food section of the magazine is currently up online and you can read the whole story behind this brand new business there. Meantime, take a look at this springtime garden collection from Paige’s Designer Cookies. Here’s the idea behind the concept  – instead of just one beautiful and delicious cookie or even a pack or two or three, you can order a collection custom crafted to suit your occasion – baby shower, bridal shower, springtime birthday or just for fun. Paige works her magic and voila! you have an assortment of cookies large and small each hand painted with Royal icing and each one a little bit different from all the others. To order your own fabulous curated collection of of custom made and decorated cookies contact Paige via her website at Paige’s Designer Cookies and then follow her on Facebook and Instagram too!


Remember to stay tuned for more! Check back to these pages for more recipes using each of these fabulous local products plus a copy of the video from today’s broadcast of Charlotte Today in an post update this weekend. Why not make it easy and get each and every one of my blog posts send directly to your inbox – simply subscribe to the blog by typing in your email address in the upper right hand section on my home page and each and every post will come directly to you as soon as it hits!


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