Last weekend, I was in Eastern North Carolina surprising Austin’s brother for his 30th birthday. There was a lot of food and fun on this trip, but I wanted to share some of the highlights.
On Friday night, we went to Starlight Cafe in downtown Greenville. I had been here for lunch about three years ago. This time we went for cocktails. I love a champagne cocktail, so that’s what I went with. Also pictured, the French 75.
Brunch the next morning almost blew my mind. We went to The Skullery in downtown Greenville. We got a couple of different things and shared, which I like to do especially when I’m at a restaurant for the first time. You get to try more! I ordered the breakfast burrito and added avocado (never a bad idea). We also got a side order of sausage balls. These were very much like the classic sausage balls my mom would occasionally make for parties when I was younger. I’ve always been a big fan of sausage balls, so I knew this would be a win, and it was.
Austin got eggs and bacon but the best part was the pancakes. He ordered their special pancakes with granola in them–amazing! I love the hearty, nutty crunch it added.
That afternoon, we drove around eastern North Carolina. It is so beautiful there. Very different than what I’m used to here in Atlanta. We ended up in Ayden, North Carolina at Simply Natural Creamery. The ice cream is apparently incredible, but we were too full from brunch. We did pick up some fresh milk and butter. So rich and creamy. You could really taste the difference.
Later that evening, we went to Kinston, North Carolina. Mother Earth Brewing is right downtown, and we stopped there first. You can tour their brewery, but we just went to the taproom for a beer. Mother Earth is a really cool company because they’re committed to being environmentally conscious (hence the name Mother Earth). Austin, much more of a beer connoisseur than me, really likes their Sisters of the Moon IPA.
Finally, we went to Chef and the Farmer. I knew we would be going here, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I was looking forward to it for months. You see, I have been watching PBS’s show “A Chef’s Life” for over a year now. “A Chef’s Life” is a docudrama/cooking show about Chef Vivian Howard. She worked in restaurants in New York City but returned to eastern North Carolina when her parents offered to help her open her own restaurant there in her hometown. Each week, you see how things are developing at the restaurant, and they shine the light on one ingredient (pecans, strawberries, grits, peanuts, collard greens, etc.). You learn a lot about the ingredient, see how it’s farmed, and watch Vivian use it in the restaurant. I also find Vivian to be charming and just so cool. Seriously you should watch this show!
So yeah, I was super excited to eat here. Her restaurant focuses on local, seasonal food, and the menu is always changing. For an appetizer we had warm pimento and sausage dip with crostini, and the bartender recommended a refreshing cocktail that included bourbon, ginger beer, and a splash of simple syrup. For dinner, we had a salad with lettuce, sweet onions, herbed goat cheese, mustard vinaigrette, and beef bacon, North Carolina shrimp and grits with sausage and pepper and mushroom relish, curry glazed pork loin, a citrus sweet potato mash, garlic braised greens (I need to recreate these!), and bread. Obviously I had to try everything, so I loaded up my plate.
For dessert, we had cake! It was a birthday after all. Chocolate caramel cake with a piece of toffee candy. So decadent. This was a party in the private dining room with a buffet, but I can’t wait to go back, sit in the main dining room, and order off the daily menu. The food and atmosphere are both perfectly done. This meal definitely ended the trip on a high note.