Once you cross the Florida border the states go by pretty quickly. Luckily, summer offers plenty of tasty excuses to stop along the way. Just south of the North Carolina border in Florence, South Carolina is the Pee Dee State Farmer’s Market. We did a quick U-turn when we spotted it and literally could have kept right on driving, as the market is a drive-thru.
We had no room in our trunk for the enormous watermelons and bushes of local corn, but it was comforting to note that if we did desire a hibiscus with blooms the size of our child’s head, curbside service was available.
The heart of North Carolina is Edible Piedmont country, and we could not have scripted a better welcome than the one we received at the Fearrington House Inn just outside of the Raleigh-Durham area. On Tuesday evenings there’s a farmer’s market in the middle of Fearrington Village, the residential community that also houses the Inn, several restaurants, and retail shops amid the rolling hills of a former dairy farm (as the remaining bovine residents can attest). The market is small by North Carolinian standards, but is full of honest-to-goodness farmers like Sally Jo Slusher of Plowgirl Farm (pictured above). I was tickled to see the summer issue of Edible Piedmont at nearly every booth, and snagged a copy so I could read all about real pimento cheese while I unwound from the drive.
Dinner that night was just steps from our room, at the low-key Fearrington Granary. The farmhouse burger with house-cured pork belly and a fried egg from Lu’s Farm in Apex, NC hit the spot along with a pint of Fullsteam, brewed in Durham.
Before breakfast the next morning we strolled through the kitchen’s herb garden for a little edible education. My own herb garden is pretty basic, and it was inspiring to see the lemon balm, sorrel, and English apple mint basking in the morning light.
Despite the white-tablecloth perfection of the breakfast dining room, choices were deliciously down-home, putting us in a very Southern state of mind before continuing our trek northwards.