Category Archives: North Carolina

North Carolina Zabaglione

Zabaglione is an Italian custard made from only eggs, not eggs and milk.* It comes from the Piedmont area of Italy, but I’m claiming it for the Piedmont of North Carolina. Why, you may ask? Well, it is a staple dessert of the Waldensian people from Northwestern Italy who settled the town of Valdese, North Carolina, 125 years ago. In Valdese, it is known as zabaione. I have made it even more North Carolina by using Raleigh, North Carolina’s own Oak City Amaretto, instead of the traditional wine.

North Carolina Zabaglione

1 dozen egg yolks from pasteurized eggs

1/3 cup superfine sugar

3 tablespoons (1 shot) Oak City Amaretto

amaretti cookies

In the top of a double boiler (off the heat) whisk the egg yolks and sugar. Add the amaretto and continue whisking until frothy. Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water and bring to a simmer or slight boil. Put the top pot in the double boiler and whisk vigorously for 3-4 minutes until the mixture looks like a smooth custard. There is a risk that you could get scrambled eggs, so you want to whisk continuously and with a strong arm. Serve immediately or slightly warm in sherbet glasses. Serve with amaretti cookies.

*I have seen some recipes that use milk as well, but most of the traditional and older recipes do not.

–Dina M. Di Maio, author of Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People, available at Amazon.com

 

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7 Italian American-Owned Food Businesses in the Carolinas

Here is a list of some of my favorite local food products and food trucks in North Carolina and South Carolina owned by Italian Americans.

Nellino’s Sauce Co.–A pasta sauce company started in Raleigh, North Carolina, by Italian-American Neal McTighe based on his mother’s and great-grandmother’s recipes for classic sauces like marinara or tomato and basil made with good ingredients.

 

Melina’s Fresh Pasta–Italian-American owner Carmella makes classic fresh pastas like spaghetti and linguine as well as many creative ravioli like roasted red pepper & feta or goat cheese & honey. There’s even the pimento cheese ravioli. She also teaches pasta making classes in Durham, North Carolina.

 

 

Barone Meatball Company–Serving up classic Italian meatballs as well as fun creations like buffalo chicken meatballs and vegetarian ricotta balls. Owned by Italian-American Stephen Dewey, based in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina.

 

 

Oak City Amaretto–An Italian-American amaretto made by Italian-American Anthony Scalabrino from a recipe inspired by his grandmother’s homemade amaretto, made in Raleigh, North Carolina.

 

Benny T’s Vesta–The first dry hot sauce available in five grades of heat made from a variety of fresh chile peppers grown in North Carolina, created by Italian-American chile enthusiast Ben Tuorto.

 

Charleston Bloody Mary Mix–A bloody Mary mix made by Italian-American Ryan Eleuteri that has all good ingredients and no horseradish–its distinctive flavor comes from a habanero mash, made in Charleston, South Carolina, found throughout the East Coast and Midwest.

 

Mr. A’s Beignets–A food truck serving delicious beignets and coffee with chicory New Orleans style in Apex, North Carolina, owned by Italian-American Arlton Cangelosi.

 

All photos in this article were used with permission of their respective owners.

–Dina Di Maio

Two for Tuesday: Sea Salt Dark Chocolate

I love dark chocolate and one of my favorites is sea salt dark chocolate.  In Raleigh, NC, there are two chocolate makers, Escazu Artisan Chocolates in Mordecai on Blount Street and Videri Chocolate Factory on West Davie Street in the Warehouse District.  Escazu’s sea salt dark chocolate bar is 65% cocoa; Videri’s, 60%.

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I decided to do a taste test involving three other people.  We tasted both of these (they blind, me knowing) and it was 50/50 split of which is best.  Two tasters thought Videri was too bitter and preferred the flavor of Escazu’s chocolate.  (Escazu’s chocolate also has vanilla in it.)  Two tasters thought Escazu’s was too salty while the other two thought Videri’s was too salty.  Go figure.  The taste and texture of both chocolate bars is different.  For a taste test yourself, visit both shops.  For $5, you can tour Videri’s factory.

Breadmen’s

Breadmen’s is a diner that’s a local favorite in Chapel Hill, NC, serving classic American food.  It’s also a family favorite in my family.  While I’m not an onion ring fan, my family says Breadmen’s makes the best.

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At a recent visit, I opted for an egg-white omelet.  It came with Southern breakfast classics–a biscuit and grits.

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We also got French toast

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a mushroom and cheddar omelet

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and a cheesesteak sandwich

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Two for Tuesday: Arepas & Empanadas

My love affair with empanadas doesn’t go back very far, but when I first had them, it was forever.  My preference is for corn flour empanadas, and I opt for the more traditional ones rather than concoctions like pizza empanada.  I was excited to see that Raleigh, NC, got an empanada bar, so I had to try it.  Calavela Empanada is in a trendy neighborhood near City Market in downtown Raleigh, and it also has a bar for the night crowd.  Downtown Raleigh tends to have a young professional crowd, and that’s who patronized this restaurant when I visited.

I wound up getting the Piggly Wiggly since I was in North Carolina–it’s a pulled pork empanada and the holy frijoles with black beans, sweet potato and Oaxacan cheese.

empanadas

Both of these lacked flavor, and the dough was more of a pie pastry than what I’m used to for empanada dough.

My friend got the champ, which is a mushroom empanada and poblano loco with poblano peppers.  She felt the same way about hers as I did.  On the flip side, these are only $3 a pop, so this is the cheapest option for a night out in downtown Raleigh.

Guasaca in West Raleigh is a fast food restaurant serving arepas.  Arepas are Venezuelan breads made from corn flour.  I’ve had them in the city, but I must admit I was not a huge fan.  What’s cool here is that you can order a signature arepa or build your own.  I got an avocado chicken arepa and a tilapia one with baked plantains and caramelized onions.  I also got red sauce and cilantro sauce on the side.  These were pretty yummy, although messy because the bread is not a pocket so it doesn’t hold the ingredients.

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North Carolina State Farmers’ Market Restaurant

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If you’re visiting Raleigh, North Carolina, and you want some authentic country cooking, then the North Carolina State Farmers’ Market Restaurant is the place to go.  The menu is very varied and the atmosphere is really cute.  The service is super friendly as well.  Plus, it’s right at the NC Farmers’ Market, so you can peruse the fresh produce and goods there before or after your meal and make a day outing.

No Southern breakfast is complete without biscuits.

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I got an omelet with home fries.

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My companions got

French toast

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omelet with grits

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and fried chicken with rice and gravy and crowder peas

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Everything was really good, especially the biscuits!

Two for Tuesday: Volcano Roll

The volcano roll is one of my favorite sushi rolls.  I don’t see it often on NYC menus, and when I do, it’s not how I like it so I don’t order it in NYC.  My favorite volcano roll is at Neo Asia in Raleigh, NC.  It’s a warm roll with a scallop-mayo topping that is very delicious!

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I recently tried a new restaurant in North Raleigh, Sushi One, and they have a volcano roll that stands up to Neo Asia.  Its topping has cream cheese and is equally delicious.

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