Sure, I love the gourmet wagons. What's not to love about Van Leeuwen's artisanal ice cream or Wafels& Dinges - except the cost?
But what I really miss are the ladies who roll their carts loaded with hot homemade tamales. And the taco trucks. Okay, I'm slow. I like to take my time about stuff - at least some stuff. So, after driving past Super Taqueria (2842 N Roxboro St, Durham, NC 27704) about a bazillion times this past year, I finally stopped in. Good things are definitely worth the wait. One word: fresh. Make that two words: flavorful. Did I mention cheap eats? Get the tacos de pastor and have fun with the salsa bar (although it reminds me of oddly enough of a 70s salad bar - not its offerings, just the set-up). For those who enjoy a venture into the brave unknown, there are tacos stuffed with variety meats - lengua (tongue) and tripa (tripe).
Since Durham's Latino population is larger than the state percentage by double, you wouldn't think I'd have trouble finding my comida.
Okay, I'm slow. I like to take my time about stuff - at least some stuff.
So, after driving past Super Taqueria (2842 N Roxboro St, Durham, NC 27704) about a bazillion times this past year, I finally stopped in. Good things are definitely worth the wait.
One word: fresh. Make that two words: flavorful. Did I mention cheap eats?
Get the tacos de pastor and have fun with the salsa bar (although it reminds me of oddly enough of a 70s salad bar - not its offerings, just the set-up).
For those who enjoy a venture into the brave unknown, there are tacos stuffed with variety meats - lengua (tongue) and tripa (tripe).
Proceeds will benefit the PLANT at Breeze Farm Enterprise Incubator, an innovative and important sustainable agriculture program in Orange County, and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.
Last year, more than $10,000 was raised.
A cake stand held the remains of the day - two rustic pies, one sweet and the other savory - and it wasn't yet 10:30 a.m.
There was roughly an hour and a half left for shoppers at the Durham Farmers' Market and an unlucky few likely had already gone home empty-handed, without the hybrid sugar-frosted "donutmuffins" or savory pies crafted by baker Phoebe Lawless.
Lawless bagged up two of her baked goodies, one buttermilk, the other chocolate, then called out an order for a cappuccino. Freshly brewed espresso permeated the air with a thick earthy aroma and frothy whoosh.
On an unseasonably warm winter morning, a line formed in front of the tented booth for Scratch Seasonal Artisan Baking, where customers patiently waited for some of the best baked goods in the county.
"Everybody loves the donutmuffins," said market manager Erin Kauffman. "I love the red beet pie. It's salted red beets with cheese. It's really good. It's sweet and savory."
Prepared foods and baked goods make up the 25 percent of the market not allocated to farmers.
"Phoebe had a unique product that we didn't have," Kauffman said. "Everything she uses, she sources locally as much as possible. We look very favorably on products using locally sourced ingredients."
Fall and winter menu items rely heavily on root vegetables and greens, featuring such pie fillings as chorizo-sweet potato or garlicky greens with Asiago cheese. When warmer weather prevails, there may be classic pies like local asparagus, bacon and egg, or Shaker lemon pie made with Meyer lemons from L'Hoste Citrus in Louisiana.
Almost entirely locally sourced, her ingredients come from Chapel Hill Creamery, Lindley Mills, Maple View Dairy, Fickle Creek Farm, and Capriotopia Farm, among others.
Lawless, former head pastry chef at Magnolia Grill, didn't invent the donutmuffins, nor does she consider herself a trend setter.
But her pies - and her Community Supported Pies subscription - have created a bit of a cult following. Local foodies began buying them at the Moore Square market in Raleigh where Lawless first started selling. Then on a customer's suggestion, she started a pie subscription - $65 for four weeks. Customers specify sweet or savory, either three small pies or one large, and pick up their orders at the market.
Hot off the shelves
In fact, her subscription was so hot, the demand outpaced her ability to produce pies for pick ups in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Pie subscriptions now are available only for pick up in Durham.
But soon there will be pie for everyone.
Lawless's baked goods are so well-received, the young entrepreneur plans a spring opening of a Scratch outlet at 111 Orange St. in downtown Durham.
The new retail space will serve an expanded savory menu of her empanadas and hearty pies as well as traditional Italian filled pastries like Stromboli and Tuscan topped flatbreads like schiacciata, which is similar to focacccia.
Lawless didn't pick up a rolling pin as a kid, determined to be a baker.
Originally, she intended to work as a savory cook and attend culinary school. Her boyfriend at the time was Greek and cooked everything on a grill with the bright, joyous flavors of the Mediterranean.
"He really pushed me into food," Lawless said. "He cooked in a way I was never exposed to. It really opened my eyes, really got me curious."
While looking for a position in a local kitchen, she applied for an opening as assistant baker at Magnolia Grill, working with former head baker Wynn Clark. Lawless said Karen and Ben Barker, chef-owners of the new American neighborhood restaurant, encouraged her development as a baker.
Elbow deep in pastry, she discovered her new passion in the tactile nature of baking. She also found pleasure in the science of her craft, solving problems and understanding ratios as well as the balance of flavors.
"It was just my hands and the dough," she said. "There wasn't even a knife separating me from the food."
Karen Barker says Lawless's palate is excellent. Usually savory chefs don't understand pastry, and pastry chefs don't understand savory, she said.
"She is probably one of the more talented bakers to come out of this kitchen," Barker added. "Even if you want to be a savory cook, you need to have baking skills, and a lot of savory cooks don't."
Let Your Luck Decide Your Discount!
MAGPIE BOUTIQUE’S 1ST annual Draw Your Own Discount Sale and Grand Opening Party is FEBRUARY 6TH.
The fates will decide when you draw for a 25-50% discount on all Fall/Winter clothing and shoes.
Bring a friend and bring home a find from top designers like BCBG, Corey Lynn Calter, Eva Franco, Gold Hawk, James Jeans, Lauren Vidal, Pur Premium Denim, Red Engine, Cavage, Corso Como, Remix, and many more.
Desserts by Pastry Chef Christa Evans and Sparkling Drinks Served at 4 pm.
601 W. Main Street, Suite D
Durham, NC 27701
But really, the happiest I have been in six months was the day I walked into BeYú Caffé (335 W. Main St., Durham, NC 27701, 919-683-1058). The cafe bistro, only open about two months, is like a delicious slice of my former urban life served up with a huge dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Owner Dorian (DJ) Brown has transformed the space in the historic Snow Building into a cozy, ambient place to chill - morning, noon and night. The decor is decidedly inviting with colors that are warm and inviting - walls of deep turquoise, rich burgundy and sunflower yellow - and interesting, carefully curated art. The staff is wonderfully warm - there is nothing like a Southern welcome - and the coffee is brilliant. I can't wait to try the food, particularly my favorite - Red Velvet Cake. It goes without saying, I'm cheerful about a well-stocked wine bar.
Brown, a former big city finance guy, graduated from Duke University and left to chase money. He found himself dissatisfied and began thinking about what to do with his life. He researched and he worked a part-time job as a barrista before leaving his suit behind. This is the sweetened condensed version, but the end result was BeYú Caffé.
I, for one, am exceedingly glad he followed his dream.
I heart BeYú Caffé.