But in North Carolina, they’ve been slowly converting tobacco crops to grape vines over the last 10 years, thanks in part to an incentive by the state government to do so. In this state, the wines go gloriously with the local gourmet cuisine. You can find gourmet food and wine in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley.
Yes, I found some lovely things to eat in the boonies of North Carolina. One place was Twenty One & Main in Elkin, a bistro serving up some incredibly tasty lunches and dinners in these here parts. On this day, the lunch special was a salmon tartare sandwich, with edamame paste, grilled pineapple, and wasabi cabbage, shown above. And it pairs perfectly with a crisp, white Italian wine from Raffaldini vineyards.
The next night for dinner, my hosts served me another local wine (or was it cider?) on the deck as the sun was setting over 12 acres of green crops and wooded fields. Then they proceeded to fix a grilled romaine salad, with a chipotle-caesar dressing, alongside grilled beef and buffalo with a Cabernet reduction sauce.
But the best thing I ate in the North Carolina countryside was fried okra straws, with produce picked straight from the garden just moments before. I never liked okra as a child…it seemed like everyone in the Midwest breaded and fried okra the exact same way and then smothered it with ketchup. It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten.
But these were glorious. My hosts sliced them thinly, lengthwise, to look like straws. Then, they dipped them in spicy corn meal mix, and flash fried them in a deep fryer.
These spicy fried okra straws were the best okra I’d ever eaten! I never thought someone could fix okra for me that I actually liked! And now it was fixed…along with the best summer evening, in the woods, on a deck, I’d had in a long, long time.