2016 was a whirlwind of a year to say the least. As a political science PhD student, I noticed how this last presidential election produced a more intense discourse among the mass public than prior races. I love a good argument, but some of the dialogue I observed in person and in the media left me feeling overwhelmed, concerned, and for the first time, truly afraid of how our country would fair if someone outside of my political party won. Thus, I found myself seeking alternative topics to discuss, even though I was elated that so many of my non-political science friends were paying close attention to current events and taking their decision more seriously than in the past.
However, I read about one 2016 dispute that provided me with feelings of excitement rather than anxiety. Apparently, Kevin Gillespie (a chef from Atlanta) and Jennifer V. Cole (a food writer and editor from Alabama) engaged in a contentious debate over the ultimate southern side: biscuits v. cornbread.
Y’all seriously read the Washington Post article that chronicles the conversation between these Southern foodies if you have a minute; it’s so interesting, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Find the article here.
If I were writing this post a year ago, the content would be quite different (the title of the post somewhat spoils what’s to come…sorry about that). I was Team Cornbread, hands down. No exceptions. Ready to take on all the haters. Until I reread the aforementioned article recently, I did not even remember Cole’s rationale behind her devotion to biscuits. (Side note: If you want to nerd out and learn about the psychology behind why my mind couldn’t recall this information, please sign up for my summer class at UNC. I’m joking, mostly, but also somewhat serious because summer funding is crucial to fund the biscuit tour I’ll eventually discuss in this post.) I eagerly defended cornbread and disregarded any form of persuasion suggesting biscuits were the superior southern bread staple. Developing cornbread recipes, ordering the amazing skillet cornbread at Acme on every visit, and always opting for other corn products over their flour counterparts (tortillas, chips, etc.), I spent most of 2017 living my corniest life (in more ways than one…have you seen the captions I use for my food pictures on Instagram?). That is…until I visited Charlotte in November to see Jay Z perform on his 4:44 tour.
In short, Jay Z was AMAZING. Seriously, get a Tidal free trial to listen to his latest album and all the other ones, while you’re at it. I may have had too much fun on my weekend getaway. I blame Charlotte’s burgeoning beer scene for the intense headache I woke up with after touring breweries for about 10 hours on the day following the concert. Enjoying a hearty brunch was essential prior to driving back to Chapel Hill, so I visited Red Eye Diner as a conclusion to my adventures in the Queen City. I ordered the standard breakfast plate of eggs, bacon, and breakfast potatoes, but toast did not sound appealing on this rough morning. I went out on a limb, ordered a biscuit, popped a few Lactaids (preparing for dat buttermilk, tho), and eagerly awaited my meal. I can now validate Cole’s point about biscuits soaking up last night’s fun, and this meal made me realize that biscuits do have their place here in the southern food scene.
While I still am Team Cornbread, I now feel like I have a new world to conquer, so I explored Dallas and Austin’s biscuit scenes when visiting my best friends over Christmas. I ordered a biscuit whenever possible, and I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction into the Lone Star State biscuit world. However, in the back of my mind, I knew that my current home in Carrboro ultimately had access to even higher quality biscuits. While Texas is a southern state, I don’t classify it as being in the “Deep South,” where I believe biscuits reign supreme. Thus, I developed a food-related New Years Resolution that doesn’t require me to starve or deprive myself. In fact, it accomplishes quite the opposite. I resolve to eat more biscuits in 2018 and take advantage of my more Southern surroundings while I’m still in this area. Enter the 2018 Triangle Biscuit Tour!
Prior to visiting a local biscuit establishment, I decided to make a round of these delicious quick bread bites for myself. I whipped up a batch of beer biscuits with Everything but the Bagel Seasoning, and I have to say they were delicious, if not totally traditional. I plan to make a more traditional version soon, so stay tuned for pictures on the ‘gram.
My biscuits were good, but I am confident that the Triangle biscuit aficionados (abiscuitonados, maybe?) can construct fluffier, more satisfying biscuits than I could because they’ve had so many years of experience, and perhaps use recipes passed down from their Southern families. Rather than labor over creating the ideal recipe myself, I have developed a list of places to visit in 2018. I will post about my biscuit journey from time to time on this blog (because I just can’t come up with original recipes every week…or original ideas for papers, but that’s another story). Without further ado: here’s my list as it stands for the 2018 Triangle Biscuit Tour. Please comment if I’m overlooking an essential place, or if you have ideas about what I should order from these hot spots.
- Time Out
- Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen
- Crook’s Corner
- Neal’s Deli
- Acme (I haven’t been for brunch, and I bet it’s also “damn good food”)
- Saxapahaw General Store
- Eddy Pub
- Bojangles (I’ve never tried it, and I feel like I should at least once)
- True Flavors
- Watt’s Grocery
- Beyu Caffe
Raleigh (I’m the least familiar with Raleigh, so NC foodie friends, please help me out):
- Flying Biscuit Cafe
- Tupelo Honey (I’ve had these before, but I would so visit again to compare/contrast with the others #research, y’all)
- Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant
- State Farmers’ Market Restaurant (Their url is realbiscuits.com, which is awesome!)
- Beasley’s Chicken and Honey