I Tasted Carolina. And Then I Ate it All. (Part 2)
Okay. So where was I on my fantastic Taste Carolina food tour? I believe we were carrying Alfred’s pecaaaahn pie over to the Carrboro Beverage Company to wash it down with a brewski. Because nothing goes with sweet pie better than a bitter stout.
(If you missed Part 1, check it out here.)
The Carrboro Beverage Company is owned by Tyler’s Tap Room, which is apparently a very popular tavern in the area. I’ll have to go back to try it out.
You know, for research.
Unfortunately, I feel a little like this is where the tour started going downhill. We were becoming full and tired, and then we introduced alcohol into the mix. The guys working here were very friendly, but they seemed unsure about what they were supposed to serve us, so they just started handing out samples of whatever they had on tap. There also happened to be a wine representative in the place, so we had more than our fair share of samples, but combine all of that with a slice of fresh pecan pie, and they almost had to roll me out of there.
They rolled me right into the place I’d been most looking forward to on the tour — Acme.
We’d eaten there with Alaina and Dirk once before, and from what I remembered, the food had been spectacular.
Which is why, needless to say, I was more than a little disappointed when they came out with what basically amounted to glorified nachos.
Sure they looked pretty, and the taste of the homemade chips dusted with goat cheese and a squeeze of fresh lime was good, like goat cheese, and who doesn’t like goat cheese, but it just… wasn’t what I’d been expecting. I suddenly felt like the annoying neighbor who’d dropped by unexpectedly, so our hosts rummaged through the fridge and threw together whatever they could find. And after a morning of service by enthusiastic and prepared artisans who were incredibly proud of their products, this just felt like a letdown.
That said, I’d still recommend them if you’re planning to spend some money. The food really can be phenomenal, and they have a gorgeous courtyard out back.
The next 2 stops, Miel Bon Bons and Jessee’s served more as an interlude for all of the gastronomical craziness going on. We sampled tiny macaroons and chocolate confections at the little patisserie with its stunning displays of pastries, candies, and the most beautiful wedding cakes I’ve ever seen (which they wouldn’t let me photograph, but you can see plenty on their website).
At Jessee’s, we took a rest and sipped refreshing flavored iced teas.
This was the reprieve we needed, apparently, because I felt rejuvenated. Which was extremely fortunate, because for the next stop, I needed my energy.
Welcome to Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe.
Now we’re back on track.
We were able to meet Vimala herself, who opened this restaurant with the help of the community. After emerging — alive — from an abusive marriage, family and friends encouraged her to open this cafe, where her motto has always been, “When Vimala cooks, everyone eats!” She will feed anyone who comes through her door, regardless of whether they can afford it or not.
But her generosity is not a cover for lack of flavor.
This was just… the best. And my biggest regret is not taking sufficient notes so I could accurately describe to you the deliciousness that we ate.
All I can say is if you like Indian food, or you think you might like to think about liking Indian food, this is a great place to start.
Then finally — finally — we were nearing the finish line.
Our guide stopped us on a corner to talk about the place we were about to enter, the Open Eye Cafe, but I couldn’t concentrate due to the food coma my brain was trying to fight off, so I took photos of bees instead.
Dudes. I totally felt buzzzzzed.
So we entered the coffee shop, and I’ll be honest — I wish this would have started the tour, since they by far had the lengthiest and most informative presentation. But after 9 stops and countless indulgences, I wasn’t sure the Open Eye Cafe could… well… keep my eyes open. Which is a shame, because they took us into the back room, where a more conscious mind would have learned from a true coffee connoisseur how to brew the perfect cup of coffee. From selecting the best free trade beans from individual farmers around the world, roasting their beans in-house, and adjusting the brewing water temperature to suit the particular bean — they knew it all. Really. This place could be more intimidating than a winery, and their super-trained and certified baristas do, in fact, hold tasting competitions with coffee.
It’s that serious.
He brewed a couple of different samples for us to try, and even my husband, who is not a black coffee drinker, had no problems getting this down.
If I learned nothing else, I did learn that coffee-making is an art much more complicated than pouring a glass of wine.
And, if done right, can lead to an exceptional tasting experience.
We drove to Dirk and Alaina’s to see the baby, but there’s a chance I might have wandered out to their porch by myself, stretched out on the couch, and took a nap.
Hey. Don’t judge. Eating Carolina is exhausting.