Picture This

Picture this: Crisp autumn day. Trees showing off in brilliant hues of crimson, orange, and yellow. Clear, pristine Carolina blue sky. Crunchy leaves and acorns under foot. Clean car, top down, sun and breeze in our faces. Got it? Then you have a mental image of the beautiful composition that made up a recent afternoon in my life. I did my best to soak up every sight, sound, smell, touch and taste of a glorious trip to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. Certainly didn’t hurt that I was in the company of Rock Star Chef, Jimmy Reale, from Carolina Crossroads Restaurant located in The Carolina Inn.

A little about Chef: Born in NY, raised in Fayetteville, NC in a large Lebanese-Italian family that valued family, friends and food. Culinary education at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, SC. “Strong Mediterranean and Italian influences show through today in Chef’s artful pairing of personal heritage with traditional southern elements. He feels very strongly about the use of local, organic and sustainable products and works very hard to strengthen Carolina Inn’s relationship with local farmers.” *

Our mission: Shop the Carrboro Farmers’ Market for ingredients for his new fall prix fixe menu. Specifically, pumpkin soup. Brinkley Farms’ “Long Island Cheese” Pumpkin Soup. This buff colored fruit is named for its resemblance to a wheel of cheese. Usually, 6 – 10 pounds, flat with deep ribs. It is referred to as a “long keeper” and offers tasty flesh and nutty seeds.

At market: Chef was in his element. Smiling, shaking hands, slapping backs, chatting, carefully selecting produce and protein. Pork from Eliza at Cane Creek. Beauregard sweet potatoes from Rose at Lyon Farm. Pumpkins, peppers, chard and green beans from Michael at Brinkley Farms. Peppers from Howard at McAdams Farm. Check out photos from our visit at chapelboro.com, Scene Around Town.

Chef’s Treat: The recipe, just for you! I made it this weekend and it is sublimely delicious!

Brinkley Farms “Long Island Cheese” Pumpkin Soup
Executive Chef Jimmy Reale
The Carolina Inn
Yields 1 gallon

1 tsp oil
2 cups White Onions, Peel and Rough Chop
1 cup Celery, Remove Leaves and Rough Chop
1 cup Carrot, Peel and Rough Chop
2 cups Sweet Potatoes, Peel and Rough Chop
3cloves Garlic, sliced
½ cup Brown Sugar
6 cups Roasted Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, May Substitute Pie Pumpkin
Veg Stock See Recipe Below
½ cup Heavy Cream
1Tbsp Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Cut pumpkin

1. Cut pumpkin in quarters, remove seeds, and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper
2. Roast in a 350 Degree oven for 35 minutes or until soft
3. Scoop out 6 cups of pumpkin from the shell and reserve
4. Heat a large pot, add oil and sauté onions, celery, carrots and sweet potato for 5-7 minutes
5. Add garlic, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt & pepper then mix well until sugar melts
6. Add strained vegetable stock and bring to a slow simmer
7. Cook for 20 minutes, add heavy cream and cook additional 10 minutes
8. Add cider vinegar than remove from heat
9. Carefully Puree hot soup in blender until smooth
10. Taste for proper seasoning
11. Enjoy!!!!!

*I have served this soup in Carolina Crossroads Restaurant with toasted pumpkin seeds and drizzle of fig vincotto vinegar

Soup in bowl

Vegetable Stock
1 tsp oil
1 cup White Onions, Peel and Rough Chop
1 cup Celery, Remove Leaves and Rough Chop
1 cup Carrot, Peel and Rough Chop
2 tsp Whole Cloves
2ea Cinnamon Sticks
2tsp Ground Nutmeg
4ea Dried Bay Leaves
12 cups Water

1. Heat a large pot, add oil and sauté onions, celery, carrots for 5 minutes
2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer
3. Cook for 30 minutes
4. Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer

* verbiage taken from www.carolinainn.com


Another 'boro's food fest

I’m a party girl. I love getting fancy, putting on heels and statement jewelry and heading into a crowd to meet new people and learn about new stuff…an opening exhibition of feminist artists! a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House! a Pepper Festival!  

My event attire has definitely um, casualized since moving to Chapel Hill from NYC, but that don’t mean my love for a party has toned down. Fortunately this area has loads of great events to raise dollars and awareness for the neat work that happens in this community. And fortunately for this little piggy, many of these events revolve around food. Yum. 

The 4th Annual Pittsboro Pepper Festival takes place in the new community park in Briar Chapel this weekend, Sunday, October 2nd, from 4pm – 7pm. Presented by the Abundance Foundation and Piedmont Biofarm, the event should be the hottest ticket in town this weekend. In their words and exclamation points, “The Pittsboro Pepper Festival aims to go pepper-wild with the greatest local chefs and local beers (including pepper beer!) to spread the superfood power of the plentiful peppers of the Piedmont! Local hotshot chefs are provided a choice of over 60 varieties of heirloom local peppers (everything from sweet to hot) and they serve up their best, most creative pepper dish as an appetizer to the pepper public!” 

That’s a lot of enthusiasm for the pepper. I appreciate that. Talk about a veggie that doesn’t get nearly the props some of its other superfood brethren enjoy.  

I also really appreciate the opportunity to chat with some of the best chefs in the Chapelboro area about the importance of promoting the humble pepper and its heirloom varietals as a significant crop for Piedmont farmers. Celebrating a sustainable crop that brings cash and serious attention to the Piedmont agricultural community…that makes this girl want to put on some dancing shoes. 

I’m psyched to sample dishes like Yeasted Corn Bread with Roasted Peppers from Chickenbridge Bakery (Carrboro Farmers’ Market), Smoked Pepper Soup with NC Shrimp from Glasshalfull (Carrboro), and Spicy Pepper Gazpacho with Cucumber Yogurt from Carolina Crossroads (Chapel Hill). Hope it isn’t too tacky for me to bring my own growlers for those Fullsteam and Triangle Brewing Company pepper beers – that is definitely happening. Already hungry for more? Here’s the full Pepper Festival Menu

See you on Sunday, and don’t forget to buy your tickets online in advance…$25 through October 1st and $30 at the door.