This week was weird, but in a good way. I did not count down the days until the weekend, and I did not breathe a sigh of relief when I woke up Friday morning. If you’re thinking that I must have had a fabulous week in the windowless abyss that is Hamilton Hall (sidenote: if you don’t go to UNC, look it up online-I would bet *a small sum of money* that your office sucks less), you’d be incorrect. The cause for my appreciation of the workweek was my friends’ visit to Chapel Hill. They arrived early Tuesday morning (like 1:00 am early) and left this morning, and y’all, they drove 18 hours from Dallas just to hang out with me in the dead of winter. Friendship goals, amirite?
Just like any good staycationer, I used my friends’ visit as an opportunity to explore the Triangle food scene and begin my 2018 Triangle Biscuit Tour. This week, I had the pleasure of trying two delicious biscuits at Rise Carrboro and LaPlace Louisiana Cookery (in Hillsborough, so technically not the Triangle, but it’s close enough). We had a blast and made the most of our days together.
We visited places in the Triangle that were on my bucket list of things to see before I finish my program, and my favorite was the Duke Lemur Center. I had no idea that Durham was home to the largest collection of lemurs outside of Madagascar. On the tour, I mentioned that Ina Garten should buy a house in Madagascar to be near lemurs AND *good* vanilla beans, the largest export out of the island.
Back to biscuit business, I decided to come up with a set of criteria based on which I will evaluate biscuits this year because I want to pretend I have a shot of having my own show on Food Network. No one is paying me to do this, and I’m not sure if anyone is reading this, but I feel legit now, so game on. First, I decided to nix the fixins that commonly accompany these fluffy treats. People have recommended biscuit places based on the quality of their fried chicken, eggs, bacon, jam, etc., but I want to find the best biscuits in their natural state. In the wild, like the lemurs in Madagascar.
While the Crab Cakes Benedict atop buttermilk biscuits at LaPlace caught my eye, I did not want my first taste of their biscuits to be overshadowed by any other brunch stars. Also, I am aware that Rise has amazing fried chicken, but as Randy Jackson says, “That’s gonna be a ‘no’ for me, dog.” This is probably TMI, but I am already living on the edge eating biscuits, and fried chicken just isn’t in my cards as a severely lactose intolerant lady. Too much buttermilk, too little Lactaid. Someone else should probably be doing this tour, but isn’t it quaint that I have taken these occasional indulgences upon myself in the name of research?
To preserve the integrity of the biscuit experiences, I ordered a plain biscuit at both places. I sliced and filled it with a bit of butter and jelly after first trying it sans condiments.
Just look at Rise’s signature buttermilk biscuit with a nice dollop of strawberry jelly inside! Confession: I’ve been to Rise before when I started graduate school, but I didn’t appreciate biscuits then (see a previous post about my past flaws). I realized this week how young and naïve I was four years ago when I was a timid first year student straight outta undergrad. I thought that the donuts were the main event at Rise, but boy was I wrong. These biscuits are perfect because they accentuate savory flavors, yet they also provide the ideal salty contrast to sweet toppings like jam and honey. While my sweet tooth has waned a bit over the years, it still exists, so the combination of a biscuit with fruity spread is ***flawless in my mind. Buttery is how I would describe the taste of this biscuit, which is not a bad thing at all, but I would venture to say it is a bit different than the “homestyle” biscuits that made appearances at family reunions and other typical southern events I have attended. The texture was flakey, but not so much that it resembled the Pillsbury canned biscuits that obviously weren’t made from scratch.
The old idiom of comparing apples to oranges applies to what I’m about to discuss, but I digress. Most Rise shops have limited inside seating and menu options, whereas LaPlace is a full-service restaurant that serves brunch, dinner, and speciality drinks (read: customize your own Bloody Mary). An evaluation of the similarities and differences of the biscuits at these two places is neither appropriate nor necessary, but I’m an academic-in-training, so no one can stop me! Whereas Rise biscuits primarily serve as the vehicle for an array of fillings, LaPlace biscuits arrive in multiple forms from English muffin replacements on Eggs Benedicts to an optional breakfast side. These biscuits are more traditional. While you theoretically could sandwich protein, sauces, and veggies of some kind inside these biscuits, they just would not hold up like those at Rise. Not because they are not strong enough (Although The Little Biscuit that Could would make a fine children’s book, don’t you think?), but they are smaller and do not contain as many layers. Although not as flakey, the homestyle texture nicely complemented every breakfast item my friends and I ordered. Buttermilk, rather than butter, was the most prominent flavor in the LaPlace biscuits.
Out of these two biscuits, I prefer Rise. While LaPlace’s biscuits pair nicely with rich, salty breakfast foods, I did not get as much enjoyment out of them on their own. That being said, I think Rise’s biscuits can border on being too rich if paired with an overly fatty item. Rankings aside, I would order both of these biscuits again, and when I make my own biscuits sometime in the upcoming weeks, I strive to mimic the taste of Rise but probably stick to the size of LaPlace to get the best of both worlds.