Sunday, March 22, 2009

From Thrill to Chill

Time was, a visit to Maggie was a visit to Chapel Thrill, all swanky dinners and strolls up and down Franklin Street in search of any place not running wild with college kids. But my visit this weekend was more about a visit to Chapel Chill.

Although it's been a while since I last went to the Carrboro Farmer's Market, I have not forgotten how simply glorious it is and so when Maggie and I were making plans for our visit, I felt that a visit to the CFM was absolutely essential.

My goal was to be on the road by 7am Saturday morning in order to make it to the market before they sold out of everything. I got a bit of a late start (trying to check my pool on account of all the ACC bracket busting on Friday night) but I rolled into town right at around 9:30. I even found a parking spot.

Maggie had arrived at 8:30 and had already stocked up. As she put it to me on the phone when we were trying to coordinate where to meet, the market basically had lettuce, lettuce, lettuce and root vegetables - at least as far as produce was concerned. I was less concerned about produce and more interested in cheese (specifically Celebrity Dairy goat cheese which is my all time favorite goat cheese anywhere) and meat. In anticipation of what we had started referring to as our Alice Waters Chez Panisse style dinner that evening, Maggie had picked up a rack of lamb (the last one) from McAdam Farms, some organic lettuce, baby radishes, beets, and baby arugula. She had also snagged me 2 logs of the paprika-garlic goat cheese from Celebrity.

While waiting for Maggie, I started to wander around. I couldn't remember where I got the sausage last time I was there, so I wound up at Cane Creek and picked up a pack of parsley-Parmesan sausage and one pack of sweet Italian sausage. I got a wheel of farmer's cheese from Chapel Hill Creamery (I didn't really want it but I had sampled so many I felt compelled to buy something). Even though Maggie had picked up what I needed, I stopped by Celebrity and wound up getting another log - this one called Party and coated with parsley, chives and onion. This is where Maggie found me (she wasn't surprised) and we took one more spin around the market.

Given the cold weather and the time of year, there were definitely less purveyors than I remembered and Maggie already had us covered on produce, but we went back to McAdam Farms as I was hoping to find some lamb to bring home for dinner tonight. Alas, they were out of chops and racks. But they did have some tasty looking racks of lamb riblets and I picked up 2 for my dinner with Maggie. I also grabbed 2 green tomatoes because fried green tomatoes seemed like a good thing to cook one of these days.

After depositing our goods off at her house, we headed into Chapel Hill. We had lunch at Sandwhich, one of my favorite lunch spots in town, where I indulged in grilled Gruyere on sourdough (cheese was a major theme throughout the day yesterday. Major.) and some of their tasty homemade chips. And while I passed on dessert from Bliss, the cupcakery cafe right next door, I have to say that the chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache looked phenomenal.

So what do 2 Duke graduates do on a Saturday afternoon in March in Chapel Hill? Well, first off, you be thankful that the Duke game doesn't come on til late. Ditto The Carolina game (nothing worse than listening to a bunch of obnoxious Carolina fans cheer for their own team and/or against yours). We found ourselves the first 2 patrons of the day at The Crunkleton where we drank beer and watched Villanova spank UCLA followed by John Calipari and crew proving to the world that they do in fact deserve to be a number 2 seed. Clearly that opening game against CS Northridge was a fluke.

When it became clear that A&M would not upset UConn (something we were both really hoping for), we left Chapel Hill, picked up our groceries, the dog and Maggie's roommate, and headed to Maggie's parents' house in Pittsboro for a civilized evening of really good food, wine and Duke basketball. The evening delivered on all counts.

While the second round of games played out, we sipped unoaked chardonnay from Toad Hollow and gorged on cheese: 2 kinds from Celebrity Dairy (paprika-garlic and French Kiss), the farmer's cheese I hadn't intended to buy, and an aged Gouda we had picked up along the way. It was fun to watch the first half of this round - LSU and Michigan both seemed to be holding their own and Purdue-Washington looked super close as well. But by the second half it was clear that the top seeded teams would not be upset and I don't know if you call a 5 knocking off a 4 a true upset.

As Duke took to the court, we got busy in the kitchen. The riblets were marinated in a mixture of hoisin, lime, cilantro, and garlic chili sauce. The chops were coated with a mixture of Asian BBQ sauce (soy and tomato based), black vinegar, mustard, garlic and lemon.

Maggie had also picked up some really pretty green onions which she split down the middle and lacquered with hoisin, sesame oil and rice vinegar.

Pre-cooked...I know, raw meat is sort of an odd thing to photograph but it just looked so pretty!

In addition to being a brilliant chef (and an accomplished surgeon), I give Maggie massive credit for both working the grill and the fireplace (gas-accelerated but requiring real wood). If I am ever stuck in the woods unexpectedly - I want Maggie with me. Girl can do!!!

Maggie's dad built this himself. It's very impressive - as is Maggie's mastery of wood and fire pokers.

So while the meat and onions were cooking, we threw together a salad with the lettuce, arugula, radishes, roasted beets, homemade croutons and some remaining crumbles of cheese. We were a bit Asianed out and opted instead for a basic balsamic-Dijon vinaigrette.

Hastily photographed BEFORE we added the beets. Oops.

The whole dinner was delicious and the Gundlach Bundschu 2005 Rhinefarm Vineyard Pinot Noir from Sonoma Valley that we drank was the perfect accompaniment not to mention and INCREDIBLE bottle of wine.

For dessert, Duke beat Texas 74 - 69 and we busted out a bag of Double Stuff Oreos.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


Gundlach Bundschu said...

May I please come to your house for the Nova game?! You've just described my perfect day, from the farmer's market to the meal, the wine of course, and the game. It may be a while before I make it out to NC though, so please feel free to visit me the next time you're in Sonoma!
Susan Sueiro
Marketing Director
Gundlach Bundschu Winery
Duke '91