Local Eats: The Pig - Chapel Hill, NC

I used to think that my spirit animal was butter. I'm starting to think I'm a pig. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking with Victoria Bouloubasis(click here to read that article), a writer for The Independent. We spoke for hours at length about tour and food and performing all the while stuffing our faces with amazing food. This is a recap of that meal.

The above (drool) is a pork belly sandwich topped with cole slaw, and served with a side of home-made pickles. The pork is perfectly braised to that fall apart texture and the pickles are sweet and crisp.

So the above is what I consider to be vegetable bliss. It's roasted brussel sprouts with mushrooms, and seriously, it's so good you'll swear there's lard on them. PERFECTION in a bowl.

If you're ever in the mood for some good ole fried zucchini I'd say it's official, The Pig, has the best fried zuchs. in town and darn good fries to boot. The BBQ is chop style and for my palette could be spicier and more sour.

This dish reminds me of being in Germany. ThaSam was so nice to bring us out this awesome cold cut plate with home made sauer kraut and spicy mustard. The Germans really know what's up.

Now THAT is a fried green tomato. Most of the time when you get these at restaurants they are thin and non substantial and really don't have much to offer. The crust on these were super crunchy and these tomatoes were HUGE. They were practically a big thick slice of bread with some warm, firm green tomato on the inside.

Prior to this meal I had no idea what the process was for making real "cracklin's." The process is a lot more than just throwing some fat back in a fryer. In fact very little fat is left on them when they hit the grease. The process is too long to discuss for this post but let's just say the next time you eat a cracklin' you should savor every moment of it. AND, if you get the chance to eat some of Sam's cracklin's you're in for a treat. Perfectly airy and crisp, with a touch of sweetness just the way the should be.

So let's go over what we've eaten so far, pork belly, sprouts, zucchini, fries, bbq, cold cuts, fried green tomatoes, cracklin's, and now how am I supposed to fit puffs of air and dough into my belly? Ok, well the fact that they are mostly air really helps, but these things are perfect for that long meal. You get the sweetness without all the heavy, unless of course you eat the whole bowl like we did.

This is Sam. Does he look familiar, because he sure did to me when I walked in. Turns out Sam and I were on the UNC varsity fencing team together my senior year. Crazy small world I tell you. Thanks so much Sam for all the fantastic food!

If you live in Chapel Hill and have a car, you need to drive on over to The Pig and have some pig.

Local Eats: The Filling Station - Greensboro, NC

Fried Pickles - with Chipotle Ranch
I'm new to the fried pickle scene, but I like to think I know a little something about frying things. Who was it that thought to bread pickles and deep fry them. I swear they were a foreign idea not to long ago and now it seems like every trend setting restaurant has to have them. It doesn't bother me of course because I happen to love them. If you've never tried them, think of a salty moist pickled cucumber that is slightly warm and has a nice crunchy outside. How could that be bad?

Fried Green Tomatoes - with Pimento Cheese and Chive Ranch
I feel like I'm sending the wrong message with all this fried food. And what is that pimeniento cheese AND ranch served with these fried green tomatoes! Alright kids, do not eat like me. It's a terrible habit to get in to. Ok, now on to the food. Pete bought these anyways. But tell me this isn't a brilliant idea!

Englewood - Crab Cake Sandwich w/ Jalapeno Tarter Sauce, Bermuda Onions, Lettuce and Tomato
When crabs are in season in NC it's always a good idea to get crab cakes. You've never had such sweet blue crab meat in your life. It's delicious. The crab was really the star but the fillings made it a little too salty for my liking. Still a great sandwich.

The Berkshire - Angus Meatloaf, Provolone, Sautéed Mushrooms, Fried Onions
My cousin Brian went with this interesting wrap. Usually "wraps" are synonymous to "healthy", not this wrap. It tastes much like Italian sausage that was put in a wrap so you could get more of the sausage per bite. Soft meat and yummy fillings though, make for a tasty meal.

--Joe Kwon

For more information on The Filling Station check out their website.