The What I Eight: June 24, 2018

As a food writer and blogger, I eat and drink a lot – research, don’t you know. On my food-centric travels there are always stops to be made for a taste of this, a sip of that.  Sometimes these “tastes” turn into a full fledged blog post ,sometime they don’t.  I often share the photos on my social media feeds, along with the hashtags #TellThemHeidiSentYou and #IllHaveWhatHeidisHaving , but have been thinking  that it would be fun to share them again in bit of a weekly roundup. Eight tastes of food and drink I have enjoyed and want to share, so that you might enjoy them, too. With that brief intro,  I bring you the first installment of “The What I Eight” for the week of June 24, 2018.

What I Eight: Cinnamon Biscuits, Røte Grøte  and Grand Marnier Crepe at Sweet Biscuit Inn | Asheville NC

What I EightAbout a week ago I was delighted to be a part of a media tour sponsored by my friends at the the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. The trip, also sponsored in part by The Dairy Alliance,  took us to visit wheat and dairy farms and production plants in and around Western NC –  Lincolnton, Newton and Asheville, to be more exact.  The group spent the two nights of our three day trip in Asheville, hosted  by members of the Asheville Bed  & Breakfast Association. Always fun to spend some time at any of this associations’ member inns located in and around Asheville. Inns where the accommodations and accoutrements are always above and beyond; and a two or three-course breakfast each morning of your stay is their jam.  For this particular two-night stay I was a guest of innkeepers Christian and Claudia Hickl of Sweet Biscuit Inn.

What I eightThe Hickl’s  were not only gracious enough to host a dinner for the entire  group of 15 food writers, educators and nutritionists on the tour;  but the next morning, our breakfast did not disappoint.  The first two items – well, two-and-a-half –   on my “What I Eight” list this week are from  breakfast at Sweet Biscuit Inn.

The meal started with coffee, juice and oh so cinnamon-y biscuits for the table to share, served with fresh sweet butter. Gotta love that a place named  Sweet Biscuit Inn started this morning with a sweet biscuit ( insert the smiley face emoji here.) But that’s not all – after the biscuits, our first course was fruit served with a European flair.

what I eightThe recipe is from Denmark and the dish is called Røte Grøte. It is a mix of seasonal red fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, blackberries blueberries all enveloped in a rich homemade fruit jelly. And as if that wasn’t enough, As Danish custom demands, it is only fitting (as I was to spent a good part of the morning touring local NC dairy operations) that it be consumed with more than a delicious dollop of lightly whipped heavy cream.

Finally with the end of breakfast at Sweet Biscuit Inn came, as it always does, with  a choice of made to order crepes! As if the cinnamon biscuit with butter, the Røte Grøte and the frittata that followed was not enough, the warm crepe stuffed with a dousing of Grand Marnier and a light sprinkling of powdered sugar was truly a heavenly way to kick off the day! For more information, availability and reservation links to plan a delicious getaway all your own,  visit the Asheville Bed and Breakfast Association 

What I Eight: Bungalow Picnic Granola | Charlotte NC

what I eightWhile we were on the media tour, one of our stops along the way was a great event hosted every so often by the Ingles food chain. The chain’s “Taste of Ingles” events are a taste-for-yourself promotion of all the local and regional product Ingles carries in its stores.  I have to say this is one grocery chain that doesn’t just talk the talk – they really walks the walk in support of all that is local. Follow Ingles social media or that of Ingles’ nutritionist Leah McGrath for notices of the next Taste of Ingles event. While we were in the Asheville area, Leah invited our group to spend a couple of hours in the Candler, NC store,  tasting our way up and down the aisles.

what I eight I was delighted to run into several of the brands I have shared on my regular Eat and Drink Local posts including Charlotte’s own  DeeDee Dodd,  of Bungalow Picnic Company, creators of three varieties of excellent granola! On the What I Eight list this week is Bungalow Picnic’s Dark Chocolate Sunflower granola – use it to enjoy as a snack right out of the package, or as a  topping on  your favorite yogurt or gelato. I love that this granola comes in big chunks – but I have to say, if you are looking for a crunchy way to beat the heat,  grind it up in your food processor, and use it as granola crumb coating for a chocolate dipped frozen banana- yes please!

For more info on where you can find Bungalow Picnic Company Granola follow the company’s social media feeds or  visit them online

What I Eight: The Crabcake Sandwich from Baltimore Crabcake Food Truck | Charlotte NC

Once I got back home from the trip I started working on a Seafood Restaurant Roundup for one of my regular segments on Charlotte Today. The segment aired on Wed June 20  – the day of the summer solstice and so the perfect time to talk about summer seafood choices. I’ll have the final blog post with video and photos and all the details up on this blog soon, for now you can see the list here.  Meanwhile, let me share one of the the What I Eight  options I enjoyed while gathering my summer seafood selections to share.

what I eightWhen I was at the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market last weekend, the featured food truck for the morning was the Baltimore Crabcake Co. –  it was providence that is so perfectly into my theme, i just had to give it a try.

The What I Eight? Probably the best crabcake I have ever had – and I will tell you that is saying something. These seafood sammies are nearly all crab with just a bit of binder to keep it all together served with a delicious homemade remoulade served on the side. The remoulade recipe is reminiscent of that made by Commanders Palace in N’Awluns.

What I eightCharlotte owner Michael Olert retired in 2015 after 36 years at Proctor & Gamble and decided to go to culinary school. When he graduated from Charlotte’s Johnson & Wales campus in 2016, he teamed with his  wife Karen and his brother Steve to open a food truck based business. These crabcakes are the bomb and so is the crab soup! Can’t decide what to order? Get the best of both option – here instead of on a sandwich, the crabcake comes in the altogether without the Martin’s Potato Roll, the lettuce,  the remoulade or the order of slaw on the side and the soup serves as a sauce – oh my,  its going to blow you away! Follow the Baltimore Crabcake Food Truck to their next stop – their schedule is online here

What I Eight: Good Cup of Coffee’s Big Poppa | Charlotte NC

What I EightAs a food writer cannot live by crabcakes, granola, biscuits and crepes alone,  I stopped into the Good Food Coffee stand at the Matthews Farmers’ Market to see what was brewing and you are going to love what I found as much as I did.

Now under new ownership, a new fun seasonal coffee beverage – sometimes hot, sometime cold – appears on the menu each week at Good Cup. This “shop” is only open during Saturday morning farmers’ market hours unless they are making some sort of special appearance, so make your Saturday morning plans accordingly. And this season the What I Eight  to puton your list is a coffee granita. Aptly named on its Fathers’ Day weekend debut as the Big Poppa, its an espresso-sized cup of cold brew coffee ice topped with a layer of Uno Alla Volta ricotta based, slightly sweetened whipped cream. Its a shot glass sized treat packed full of big flavors – enjoy!

Follow the adventures and drink specials from Good Cup Coffee on their Instagram feed at @GoodCupCoffee_co .

What I Eight: Streamline Kitchen Food Truck Veggie Burgers | Charlotte NC

what I eightI seem to be on a bit of a food truck binge this week. Truth is, this truck has been on my bucket list for a while.  I’ve been wanting to see what my friends Chefs Paul Malcolm and Brian Campbell were up to in their 1959 airstream camper turned food truck. There is lots to tell about the Farm-to-Trailer eats at Streamline Kitchen, one of Charlotte’s  newest food trucks.  The truck itself is super cool, a project that has taken the two chefs months and months to get refurbished and resurrected from  camper to a kitchen.  The What I Eight this week was the veggie burger aka Streamline’s Veggie Hash-Pipe. There is of course a good bit of delicious local pork and poultry on the truck, but I am here to tell you a good veggie burger is a hard find.

This from-scratch patty is made from mushrooms, peppers, beans, quinoa and smoked pecans,  topped with pickled green tomatoes, Monterey Jack cheese, greens and a chipotle crema all served on a Dukes Bread brioche bun. Yes indeed – all local and really and truly all that! We loved it!

Follow Streamline Kitchen to their next top  by following their social media feeds or checking their schedule online.

What I Eight: Fading D Farms  Got To Be NC  Water Buffalo Milk Bufalato Gelato | Salisbury NC

what I eightAfter an intensive three days on the Wheat and Dairy tour this month, you might think I may have had my fill of local dairy products, but not so. The very minute I saw a post in my Facebook feed about the new Bufalato Gelato from my friends at Fading D Farms in Salisbury NC, I just new I had  to try it. Available at the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market  on Saturdays as well as at the farm store in Salisbury, this new addition to the list of  Fading D Farms’ excellent local water buffalo offerings, is a winner.

And so, The What I Eight for this post  is the Bufalato Gelato, currently  in two flavors: strawberry ( our fave) and sweet cream (a close second choice). Both are  made from sweet cream water buffalo milk, a bit of sugar and starch and ( in the case of a flavor) farmstead produce. No artificial anything and absolutely delicious. Look for a blueberry variety to be coming soon – its in the flavor testing stages now – stay tuned.

For more about Fading D Farms, North Carolina’s only Water Buffalo Dairy, visit their website here.

What I Eight: Bold Rock  Blackberry Hard Cider | Mills River, NC

what I eightOnce more this “What I Eight”  is actually the “What I Drank”, but no matter – you will want to drink it too!

As many of you know my husband, Tom Billotto, is a full time musician, specializing in acoustic fingerstyle guitar and vocals. Tom performs with other musicians around town in duos or trios but more often than not is is a solo act playing at many area restaurant and wine bars. You can read more about Tom and see his monthly performance calendar here.

what I eightThis past Friday evening he headlined at the Harris Teeter wine bar in Cotswold. I came to sit in on all the fun after eating my way through the menu at Streamline Kitchen’s Friday night gig at the Noda Company Store in Charlotte’s NODA neighborhood.

I was delighted to find Bold Rock Cider among the offerings on the HT wine bar menu. The cider is also in Cotswold Harris Teeter’s beer and cider section. You may recall that Bold Rock was a part of my Springtime Edition Eat Local, Drink Local post, where you can read more about the local brand. This week I was even more delighted to get to try the new seasonal blackberry variety – yep, its a keeper!

Bold Rock is North Carolina’s largest cider company. With original roots in Virginia all of the cider Bold Rock produces at the cidery in Mills River – a stone’s throw away from Hendersonville, NC is made with local Henderson county apples.

what I eightThat’s it for now… Hope you have enjoyed this taste.

For more of “The What I Eight”  check back to these digital pages next Sunday… meanwhile follow me on my social media feeds for a taste of all the ways to Eat and Drink local right as they are happening. I am @heidibillotto on Instagram; @Heidi Billotto Cooks and @Heidi Billotto on Facebook and @HeidiCooks on Twitter.






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