Eat Local, Drink Local: Springtime Edition Recap with Recipes & Video

Eat Local, Drink LocalHere is a repost of my Springtime Edition of Eat Local, Drink Local. 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!

I just posted my summer time Eat Local, Drink Local post, and thought it would be fun to review these six North and South Carolina products while we were all in Eat Local, Drink Local mode.

I had the pleasure of initially sharing a round up of each of these products on my regular Eat Local/DrinkLocal roundup on WCNC’s  midday lifestyle program, Charlotte Today  the morning of Friday March 9, 2018.

In Case You Missed It – I’ve included a replay of the video here, then followed up with a descriptive a Where-to-buy info on each product PLUS recipes for some delicious ways to use all of these local products for your springtime menu, meal and party planning… But first here is the video from the March episode of Charlotte Today – Enjoy!

Quick editor’s note…Love that the shot of the Clemson Blue Cheese also gives a shout out to another wonderful North Carolina brand, “Old World Moulding”  owner Jeffrey Matthews makes some of the best hand crafted and then personalized cutting boards in the world. Don’t just take my word for it ask chefs at every locations of Ritz-Carlton around the world, at all of the Disney restaurants and resorts and all around the Carolinas as well. All out of his wood shop in Mooresville, NC Go, Jeff, Go!

As we did in the video, we’ll start 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

Eat Local, Drink Local: Bold Rock Cider from Mills River, NC just outside of Hendersonville, NC

Bold Rock Hard Cider from Mills Spring, NC

Eat Local, Drink Local

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

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…

Eat Local, Drink Local: 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.

Eat Local, Drink LocalWatson 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! I Love the story in the biscuit post about how the  taste of this real buttermilk, made the old fashioned way, brings back memories to dementia patients – proof that our food-centric memories really are good for our all over health!

Another wonderful way to use Hickory Hill Milk in cooking is to use the whole milk is your favorite puddings and custards. The recipe I’ve included below for a Springtime Lemon Pots De Creme is best served topped with local berries and a sprig of mint picked straight out of your kitchen garden!

From local milk, comes local cheese

Eat Local, Drink LocalOne 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…

Eat Local, Drink 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!

Eat Local, drink LocalThis 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 

Eat Local, Drink Local: 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.

Eat Local, Drink Local

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:

Eat Local, Drink 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.

Eat Local, Drink Local

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.

Eat Local, Drink Local: Paige’s Designer Cookies From Charlotte NC  

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

*** Editor’s note – March 15, 2021 – Unfortunately these beautiful cookies are no longer available in the Charlotte area. 

Eat Local, Drink LocalDelicious 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!

Eat Local, Drink LocalSo 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!

Recipes to Show You Just How Easy It Is To Eat Local:

Eat Local, Drink Local

Heidi Billotto’s Springtime Lemon Pots De Crème with Hickory Hills Milk

3/4 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

4 cups Hickory Hill Milk Cream Top Whole Milk

10 drops Doterra Lemon Essential Oil (optional, but worth it:  it will make the final dish oh so lemony)

10 large egg yolks (to make the Pots de Crème extra rich, I use local duck eggs in this recipe!)

zest of 2 lemons

Fresh whipped cream and fresh local berries with mint or edible spring flowers, for garnish

Preheat at 325 degree oven. Put eight 6-oz. ramekins in a large roasting pan or baking dish with high sides.

In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice and ½ cup of the sugar. Warm over low heat until the sugar melts into the juice. Add in Hickory Hill Milk Whole Milk and, stirring occasionally, bring up to a simmer. Just at the point where steam starts to rise off the liquid in the pan, remove from the pan from the heat.

Tip  – Take care not to walk away while you are warming the milk. Fresh dairy products can come to a boil quickly and will boil up and over the pan in no time!

Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until smooth, thick and light yellow in color.

Temper the eggs gently by whisking in a ladleful of the hot milk mixture into the yolks and then whisk the now warmed yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk.

Cook slowly, over low heat, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.

Tip  – use a wooden spoon to stir the custard and if you keep the tip of the spoon on the bottom of the pan and stir in the shape of a figure 8, then the custard won’t over cook or stick to the bottom of the pan.

Remove the pan from the heat.  Drop in the Doterra lemon essential oil.*  and at this point, you can stir in the zest – or yellow part of the rind – from 2 lemons. A microplane zester makes short work of the zesting process.

Divide the mixture among individual sized ramekins and place the ramekins in a roasting pan or a baking sheet with sides.

For a gentler cooking process, pour enough hot water into the pan around the filled ramekins so that it comes about one-quarter of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the ramekins with a sheet of foil (simply lay the sheet on top, don’t crimp the edges) and bake for 35 minutes at 325.

Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a heavy duty cake or cooling rack.  Let the custards cool to room temperature in their water bath. Remove the custards from the bath, cover them with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.

lemon oilGarnish with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, local berries and if you would like edible springtime flowers. The flowers I used came from Tega Hills Farm in Ft. Mill, SC

Recipe note – Doterra Essential Oils are not sold in any stores, but I would be happy to place an order for you. If you are interested in ordering any of the Doterra essential culinary oils ( all of the citrusy oils are wonderful in this recipe – lemon, tangerine and wild orange, too!), email me at

eat local, drink LocalWant to read more? The summer issue of Charlotte Living magazine also includes a round up of the four savory items in this list plus a section on Uno Alla Volta cheeses in Charlotte and Roots Hummus from Asheville, NC. Copies of the new summer issue are on newsstands now and are also available at Lincoln’s Haberdashery and McAdenville Table and Market -my two featured restaurants in the summer issue.

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