10.16.2018

The Annual TerraVita Food and Drink Festival is Worth the N.C Road Trip for Foodies

One of the best food and drink festivals in the Triangle area is TerraVita, an annual culinary experience in N.C. that gathers foodies together for education and tasting. It's more than just a food festival in the south. It's like visiting family every fall season and then learning something on each visit. 2018 marks the 9th consecutive year for this popular food festival in N.C. 

The final event of the jam-packed festival, called the Fall Fete, showcases North Carolina's commitment to the agricultural industry. TerraVita's Fall Fete is a 3-hour tasting from North Carolina's local farms to the culinary table with more than 40 chefs participating. From a local Raleigh resident's perspective, TerraVita is one of the few food festivals in the Triangle that brings in chefs from different parts of the state together under the umbrella of food, education, and fellowship. One of the highlight events that sell out quickly is the East Meets West Dinner. This dinner puts the spotlight on the finest producers in North Carolina where a multi-course meal is served family style by chefs in great restaurants throughout North Carolina. 




TerraVITA began in 2010 out of a foodie's desire to produce a top-quality event for the Southeast, showcasing the very best in food and wine. The founder, Colleen Minton, wanted sustainability to be a key part of the event, but not be surpassed by the importance of superior quality and continued culinary education in addition to giving back to the local community. Since 2010, TerraVita has raised more than $50,000 for local charities. 

The sustainable classroom portion of the TerraVita event in Chapel Hill is a highlight of the entire festival. The experiences are when foodies learn from the best in the culinary industry. Usually, the topics are very timely and are on topic with food trends.  In 2018, one of the classroom topics will be on the Instant Pot. You may not own an Instant Pot yet, but the fast-cooking pressure cooking is all over Pinterest with Instant-Pot recipes. 

Sheri Castle, a North Carolina-based culinary educator and cookbook author of the Instant Pot cookbook called Instantly Southern says there is power in the pot and it can do way more than soups, rice, and grains. The Instant Pot is a great machine that can cook an entire meal from appetizers to desserts in very little time. 





TerraVita pushes foodies to celebrate food, its history and the culture surrounding food.  This year, the festival is spotlighting the memory of Edna Lewis, author of A Taste of Country Cooking, originally published in 1976 and is currently in its 30th Anniversary printing. 

Chefs will gather at the Fearrington Village in Pittsboro to host.the special dinner The Legacy of Ms. Lewis: A Tribute to Edna, who was an early pioneer in the farm-to-table movement.  

At this familial dinner, chefs who consider Miss Lewis a mentor and a hero will honor her by preparing tribute dishes. A moving panel discussion, led by James Beard award-winning author Toni Tipton-Martin, will accompany the food, unearthing more stories about this trailblazing chef’s remarkable impact. Colin Bedford of The Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro will be the host chef. In addition to Hall, guest chefs will include Walter Royal of Angus Barn in Raleigh; and Sean Fowler of Mandolin in Raleigh. 

Food Personality and Cookbook author Carla Hall will also be cooking at this dinner.  She will be at the festival a week before the launch of her new cookbook "Carla Hall's Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration" that brings soul food to mainstream kitchens. 


Hall has a recipe for Caribbean Smothered Chicken Thighs with Coconut, Lime and Chiles spotlighted in the Washington Post and I want to try it. 

Whether you do the whole TERRAVita Shebang or just one event, this is an annual event that will make a North Carolina road trip for foodies worth it. 


The TerraVita Festival in Chapel Hill, NC is the perfect road trip destination for foodies. #Southerntravel #southernfood #Southernfoodfestivals

Above Text Updated in October 2018. Photos below are from TerraVita 2015. I do have some foodie eating advice for you on the Fall Fete. Walk around first and treat the tasting like a sport. Start with a favorite restaurant then go for something out of the box. Make a list and tackle your list. Get a drink in between, but don't go down the line in a circle like I did the first year.  By the time, you reach the end, you may be too full to try something that you really wanted to try. It's best to have an eating strategy. 
Chefs 105 cuisine

FullSteam Brewery



French Broad Chocolates of Asheville, NC


Escazu Chocolate, Raleigh, NC

Slingshot Coffee Company


We had so much fun!







10.10.2018

Best New Foods at the 2018 N.C. State Fair: What Not to Miss

Unique foods. Fried foods. Gourmet dishes with a twist.  All of these culinary sweet and savory fall fair food can be found as soon as you walk through the gates of the N.C State Fair in Raleigh.  This year's vendors will serve up some of the best fair food I've ever tasted to over a million people during this year's fair season of October 12-October 21, 2018. (Hurricane Michael pushed the opening by one day this year.)

What are the best foods to eat at the N.C State Fair? There is a Best New Fair Food of 2018 Winner, of course. The Cool Runnings Jamaican Jerk pork wrap with mango salsa got the most media votes at the 2018 Media Preview. This yummy dish balanced with the heat of the jerk and the sweetness of the mango will certainly be a crowd favorite.

But honestly, there were several dishes that were so good that it was hard to name just one for the media vote. In fact, I didn't. They counted votes before I even got mine in the vendor box. I was too slow to make a final choice because I liked way too many N.C. State Fair Foods this year.

2018 New Fair Food You Must Not Miss at the NC State Fair

Jerk Pork Wrap with Mango Salsa by Cool Runnings Jamaican.


Jerk Pork Wrap with Mango Salsa by Cool Runnings Jamaican.

It's spicy, sweet and perhaps a little messy, too. The heat of the jerk chicken balances very well with the sweetness of the mango. So grab some napkins and enjoy.  This booth will be located near Dorton Arena.

Arepa Burger by Arepa Loca

Arepa Burger by Arepa Loca


I had to learn to pronounce it (ah-reh-pah), but once the name rolled off my tongue and the taste of the new Arepa burger lingered, this dish became a favorite of mine. And if I had not missed the Media "best fair food" vote due to my slowness, I think my card would have been in this vendor's jar. An arepa is a handcrafted gluten-free white cornmeal bread. This burger is served tomato and onion then topped with matchstick potatoes and traditional pink and cilantro guacamole. You will find these burgers near Kiddie Land. Parents may need the burger to keep their sanity.

Fried Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple Salsa by Captain Neill's Seafood

Fried Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple Salsa by Captain Neill's Seafood


What's better than fresh North Carolina fried shrimp? Not much. But, put some cabbage slaw and the most delicious pineapple salsa then you've hit culinary fair cuisine. You will be able to find this booth near Dorton Arena.

SoJo Melt with Lamb by Neomonde Meditteranean

SoJo Melt with Lamb by Neomonde Meditteranean


This incredible dish reminded me of the look of a warm Philly cheesesteak. It's the Mediterranean take on a Philly hoagie classic. This dish is sauteed lamb with onions, soujouk spices, hummus, Lebanese pickles, melted provolone and mozzarella cheeses, Roma tomatoes plus spicy jalapeno/cilantro sauce on hoagie bread. You can find this food near Kiddie Land.

Crack and Cheese Waffle Cone by Hickory Tree Turkey BBQ

Crack and Cheese Waffle Cone by Hickory Tree Turkey BBQ


For those who like to keep on walking, this savory dish is for you. In one cone, you'll find macaroni and cheese, turkey bbq, deep friend turkey cracklings, creamy southern slaw, and special bbq sauce all in one waffle cone. It's a gourmet, southern delight with flavors that impress. You will find this food near the Education building.

Shrimp and Cheddar Cheese Grits Eggroll by Woody's Tavern

Shrimp and Cheddar Cheese Grits Eggroll by Woody's Tavern


Deep fried food lovers will rejoice over this new state fair food. It's a southern take on a fried egg roll and it delivers big time in flavor. Everyone I talked to loved this dish. I did, too. In this eggroll, you fill N.C. farm-raised shrimp, N.C. ground cheese grits and tasso ham. It's then topped with a red pepper remoulade sauce. The inside of the eggroll is soft and not crunchy like a traditional eggroll so it surprises you at first bite. You can find this food near the Grandstand ticket area.


Candid Bacon S'more by LaFarm Bakery

Candid Bacon S'more by LaFarm Bakery


It's pretty and it tastes good, too. What more information do you need? This is sweet a dish that you may want to share with a few people. My favorite part was the homemade marshmallow filled with applewood smoked bacon ganache.  It's one of those dishes that you take a bite and say, "Oh, that's good!" Then you take another one and another one and it's half gone. With this dessert, it also depends on what side you start nibbling. The chocolate bacon ganache dipped side is definitely richer and I personally ate more of the non-dipped side. But overall, I loved the flavors. It will be much bigger than what I tasted so I think it's definitely one to share. You will find LaFarm Bakery near the North Carolina Pottery Exhibit. LaFarm is a Cary, North Carolina bakery that I've featured many times on this blog.

Durty Bull Brewing Co.


There are 22 new foods at the N.C State Fair this year plus a Public House with NC Wine and Beer. Durty Bull Brewing Company in Durham will be one of than thirty vendors on tap. I loved their samples and am a fan of its Oak-Aged Blonde Sour.  Tickets to the Our State Public House is $10 and that price allows two sample servings. Beer and cider samples are in 8 ounce pours. Wine is in 3 ounce pours.

Admit it. You love NC State Fair Food. We sampled some of the best new food at the fair for 2018. Deep-fried Fair Food. Savory. Sweet. You name it and we've compiled a list of the best food to eat at the NC State Fair in Raleigh, N.C.



You can learn more about the rides, exhibits, and attractions at the NC State Fair, where to park when visiting the fair, where to get a shuttle in Raleigh where you can park and ride to the NC State Fair, ticket prices, and lodging options near the NC State Fairgrounds by visiting the N.C. State Fair website. 

An important date to remember for the NC State Fair is Thursday, October 18 is Food Lion's Hunger Relief Day. Bring in five cans of food and get one free fair admission ticket per person. 

9.24.2018

Vacations in North Carolina After Hurricane Florence: What You Need to Know

North Carolina has four distinct seasons and as a result, we have people wanting to visit North Carolina 365 days a year. Unfortunately, In September, my home state took a gut punch with the arrival of Hurricane Florence. Like many tourists, she loved the Carolinas so much that she stuck around for days leaving a path of widespread destruction in many places in North Carolina.

Interstate 40 After Hurricane Florence
Interstate 40 flooded. That's not a river. That's a highway!


Raleigh N.C and West Toward the Mountains of North Carolina and Charlotte

If you have a vacation planned in Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte, Asheville, or Boone then you should be able to arrive at your planned destination without any issues. Some flooding and downed trees did occur during the storm, but tourism in these areas are back to normal.

chihuly at Biltmore


Our Mountains are one of the best places to experience fall. The Chihuly Exhibit on the Biltmore Estate will wrap up in October and beginning November 3, Christmas at Biltmore opens.

North Carolina Beach Communities


Figure Eight Island


Southeastern North Carolina was hit hard by devastation and flooding. Recovery will take time. Clean up is ongoing. Many North Carolina roads, including Interstate 40, toward Wilmington are still flooded in parts. Several inland counties remain flooded with washed out roads. If you are traveling to North Carolina, bookmark Drive NC.gov to see what roads are open for travel.  It is also advised that you call your hotel or vacation rental manager before heading on your vacation.

Brunswick County Beaches

Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Caswell Beach Oak Island--OPEN to Visitors
SOUTHPORT, NC: State of Emergency 
BALD HEAD ISLAND-State of Emergency


North Carolina's Brunswick beaches except for Bald Head Island and the seaport town of Southport, weathered Hurricane Florence better than expected. These beaches are open to residents and visitors, however, Brunswick County is currently under a travel warning. Inland roads remain flooded or washed out which makes it more difficult to get to the Brunswick beaches.  Neighboring Inland county, Columbus County is also under a travel warning which many people use roads in this state to get to Brunswick County.

The town of Leland, in Brunswick County, is still under a State of Emergency as is the cute little seaport town of Southport and beautiful Bald Head Island, only accessible by ferry.  Photos from Bald Head Island after the storm looked as if the entire island was flooded. All guests who were scheduled to visit Bald Head Island will be contacted.

New Hanover County Beaches and Wilmington, N.C.
Figure Eight Island, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wilmington, N.C. 




Hurricane Florence made landfall over this area. Clean-up and disaster recovery work is ongoing. If you have plans for this area, it is best to stay in contact with the New Hanover County tourism site. They are updating a lodging list daily.

The Wilmington International Airport is operational.

Figure Eight Island is a private island in Wilmington available to homeowners and renters only. If you have a vacation scheduled there then contact your homeowner or Figure Eight Realty about your rental. 



Topsail Island Beaches in Pender County
Surf City and South Topsail Island
http://www.topsailbeach.org/

Interstate 40 has lanes closed in Pender County and many inland cities remain flooded in this county. The beaches of Surf City and  Topsail Beach are closed to visitors until further notice. Only residents and contractors are allowed on the island. There is a curfew for the Pender County side of Topsail from 7 pm to 7 am.

North Topsail Beach in Onslow County

North Topsail Beach is under a 9 pm to 7 am curfew. The island is open to the general public, but use caution when traveling. All town parks including beach access are closed until further notice.

The Crystal Coast, North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks
Emerald Isle, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, Beaufort, N.C., Harker's Island and Cape Lookout




The storm surge was extremely high in this area during the duration of Florence. Clean-up and storm debris removal are underway. Each beach is working hard and making progress daily. Curfews are lifted.

Cape Lookout is closed until further notice. To stay updated on this area, continue to visit the Carteret County Official Tourism website. 


New Bern, North Carolina 

The historic town of New Bern, N.C. experienced epic flooding in Craven County during Hurricane Florence and the historic downtown part of New Bern was hit very hard. Tryon Palace is currently closed as is many businesses, especially downtown. The tourism site is not operating with current information at this time so be sure to check the New Bern town website regarding updates.

North Carolina's Outer Banks

The coast is clear in North Carolina's Outer Banks. Businesses and hotels are ready to welcome you. The islands received very minor damage from Hurricane Florence. For more information on vacationing in this area, visit https://www.outerbanks.org/

Recovery will take time.





Donations The North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund is available for donations to support North Carolina’s response to Hurricane Florence. To donate, visit governor.nc.gov or text FLORENCE to 20222.


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