Chapel Hill was named “Foodiest Small Town in America” in 2008 by Bon Appetit Magazine. The area is home to a dedicated and very involved network of organic practice farmers and equally dedicated buyers. With more than 120 farms in a 50-mile radius, a farmers market isn’t hard to find. The local restaurants support the growers, and the slow-food movement is at its culinary best.
Land that once grew tobacco is now draped with grape vines. Just before the turn of the century and prohibition, North Carolina was actually the leading wine-producing region in the nation. Now it is home to more than 80 wineries, a number which has more than tripled since 2001.
A tasty landscape
Every season is a winner in North Carolina. The variety of landscape, climate, and cultural heritage is as rich and treasured as the music in its mountains and the catch at its shore. This state has an astounding array of mouth-watering delicacies and down-home treats — jewels in a land already rich in culinary traditions.
Since 1975, A Southern Season has been sharing a bounty of tasteful Tar Heel flavors with an appreciative audience that now spans the globe. “With an award-winning collection of gifts brimming with Carolina goodness and home-grown state pride, we pledge our best each season. Cheers to the Old North State! There’s truly no other place that tastes like home,” according to Marketing & Communications Director Deborah Miller.
Growing up Barefoot
Owner Michael Barefoot grew up on a farm in Johnston County, North Carolina, home of the original Johnston County Country Ham, and for many years his family was one of the area’s producers. North Carolina’s famous country hams are the stuff of local legend with a down-home, mouthwatering flavor that’s delicious morning, noon and night. Our fully cooked, boneless, salt- and sugar-cured country ham is ready to serve, so just slice and bring on the biscuits!
Portobello, Country Ham and Goat Cheese Panini
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 4 large Portobello mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil
- olive oil for brushing panini pan
- 4 slices country ham
- 4 slices local goat cheese
- 1 roasted red pepper, sliced
- 8 slices good quality bread
- Mix basil, mayonnaise, and butter in a blender until basil is finely chopped and mixture is well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
- Snap stems out of mushroom caps and discard. Wipe caps with a damp paper towel and, using a spoon, scrape out dark gills from the underside of caps.
- Put the mustard, soy, and garlic in a small bowl and whisk together with a wire whip. Slowly add the oil in a thin stream while whisking to make a thick dressing.
- Paint both sides of the mushroom caps with the dressing and allow them to stand for 10 minutes.
- Cook mushrooms in countertop grill or grill pan until golden and soft when pressed, basting occasionally with any remaining dressing.
- While caps are grilling, spread basil mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread. Place a slice of country ham and cheese on one slice of bread.
- When caps are done, place them the bread and top with roasted red pepper. Press and cook in cleaned panini pan, brushed with olive oil.
Keep the South in your mouth with some regional variations. Try pimento cheese instead of goat cheese. Add caramelized Vidalia onion. In the summer, add some local heirloom tomatoes.