Friday Rebekah and I planned an excursion into Eastern North Carolina with our friends Leslie and Scott. We were scheduled to meet some potentially cool people, tour their interesting antebellum home, eat at an iconic restaurant, and then drive home.

Check, check, and check – but then so much more. The day turned out to be epic to the extent that I can’t simply share a handful of images and move on. This needs to be two posts minimum. I’ll start with the restaurant and later – when I’ve had time to process the amazing photographs – I’ll write something about the house.

Chef & the Farmer:

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Grilled Yardbird

Rebekah and I have always appreciated good food. Additionally, we enjoy cuisine that’s representative of a region. In fact, one of our great joys in traveling is to “eat local.” Not only that, but the farm-to-table movement aligns with our vision, our priorities, and our values environmentally, economically, and theologically.

Put all that together, and celebrity chef Vivian Howard‘s “Chef & the Farmer” restaurant in Kinston checks all the boxes and then some. Add good friends, new friends, inimitable ambiance, and food that is inventive, regionally authentic, delicious, and creatively presented, and I have to say that – like the best restaurants in Europe – the food is the story and dining together was the best and only entertainment necessary to make the evening an unqualified success.

I won’t try to describe all the creative appetizers, entrées, and desserts. Suffice it to say that the cuisine was quintessentially Southern yet iconically “Howard” – rich, nuanced, fresh, flavorful, imaginative. I’ve thrown in a few sample photos to communicate the gist of the idea.

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amazing cheesecake

With the right local connections our party was able to enjoy a quiet anteroom off the main dining area. Then, icing on the cake (cream on the cheesecake… sauce on the seafood… gravy on the chops…) Vivian Howard herself stopped by our table for a welcome and  a chat.

She graciously indulged us – even the starstruck – for a photograph and was most generous with her time.

Enjoy these few photos, but make sure to check back soon for my feature on the amazing house where we spent the afternoon.

Bon appétit – always – DEREK

 

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