Head South

A week ago today, I had the unconditional pleasure of joining a fellow food obsessed gourmand for lunch. She emailed asking if I would like to join her for a journey 23 miles south. We were to dine at a quaint spot new to the growing culinary scene, Provisions Local Market. I quickly made changes to my day's calendar and eagerly accepted the generous invitation from my new friend. What followed was a marvelous, exploratory drive into the heart of Union County. Fifteen square miles and some change, Waxhaw is located in the historic region called the Waxhaws. It's name hails from the Native American tribe who lived in the area long before colonial days. Located in the Piedmont region of our great state, this is where gold was first discovered in the United States. In fact, the Howie Gold Mine resides not too far from city limits. 

A visit to Waxhaw is best compared to a trip back in time. The historic city boasts a beautiful and scenic downtown. Main Street comprises charming spots, enticing windows and inviting doors that readily welcome any visitor. This is a city for stopping to say hello to a passerby. Also prime for strolling, lingering and exploring. Waxhaw is a train lovers paradise as one can actually feel the rumble beneath their feet from the tracks located a stone's throw away. Growing up in Charlotte, we knew Waxhaw well; head straight on Providence Road until you creep towards the border. A short time ago Waxhaw was a hidden gem. Things have since changed. Currently home to approximately 10,000 residents, Waxhaw is exploding a cause of its attractiveness to new families, affordable housing and an outstanding school system. Waxhaw is also ranked as one of the safest cities in which to live in North Carolina. The city is also home to an impressive number of local farms and markets. One of these Saturdays, I am itching to peruse the acclaimed Waxhaw Farmer's Market, a "consortium of farmers and artisan vendors, proudly growing and making all products locally".

As soon as we walked through the door at Provisions Local Market, I knew we were in for serious delight. I understand that a sister location is opening in Rock Hill and wouldn't it be nice could we lure another to Charlotte. We carefully took in the long rows of meticulously shelved goods that we committed to revisiting after lunch. I later bought a dozen Sandy Creek eggs and a beautiful jar of golden maple syrup. From spices in bulk, coffee, home baked bread, cheeses and dry pasta to a splendiferous assortment of candies, there is a smudge of something for everyone. Refrigerator doors opened and closed shut as individuals pulled out jugs of fresh milk and vacuum sealed cuts of grass fed meat. 
Locals chatted gregariously with folks behind the counter. We eagerly took our place in line and watched three men do their thing. I opted for the daily salad special comprised crisp romaine lettuce, artisan cheese, crunchy croutons and the most sweet yet tart orange cherry tomatoes that beautifully peeked out of lettuce leaves. Carefully tossed in a tangy Caesar dressing, I have never tasted tomatoes so delicious. Not even from my grandfather's garden in Cape Town. I added roasted chicken, which most certainly hailed from a farm nearby. I am a serious proponent of eating local and what a better testimony to this than a business sourcing from a bevy of neighboring entities including New Town Farms, Small City Farms, The Speciality Farmer, Coastal Plains, McEntire Produce, Sandy Creek, San Giuseppe Salami Co, Carolina Artisan Bread and Bosky Acres. 

Our timing could not have been more auspicious as Provisions Local Market opened a few Saturdays ago. We smiled at our fellow diners knowing that we were all in on a glorious secret. Running the kitchen is Paul Verica of Waxhaw's gastronomic piece de resistance, Heritage Food and Drink. I am slowly working on twisting partner-in-crime's arm to rise a bit earlier this Sunday to head there for brunch. Does the world know of my affinity for freshly baked doughnuts? Chocolate, vanilla, blackberry and lemon variety at that? An animated, inviting and easygoing space, the cafe was crowded with contented shoppers and satisfied eaters. After submitting our orders, we found a cozy table in the adjoining room. The back wall was open for autographs and we observed numerous diners taking pens to the white paint. We were thrilled to see trays of food moving across the room. The hot soup lent a divine aroma and the plates of stuffed, beautifully colored sandwiches had me ogling indiscreetly. The next go around, (in addition to the Dog, a Hebrew National slathered in guacamole, chopped onions, relish, cheddar cheese and served with fat pork crackling on top), I plan to order the Italia. A mammoth sandwich stuffed with pepperoni, prosciutto, ham, sopressata and provolone all on sourdough bread. I hail from a family of spectacular eaters whose mantra go big or go home always prevails. This Waxhaw number is a meat lover's incandescent fantasy for sure. Until my next meal, it's mathematical. I simply can't wait to return.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/entertainment/restaurants/helen-schwab-blog/article28032733.html#storylink=cpy
In the past week or so, I have come to a conclusion. It seems that I am incapable of tooting my own horn. In many arenas, this suits me perfectly fine but in the space of pushing my brand it is "nicht so gut". While growing up we received ample encouragement, praise and love but I don't hail from the generation who revels in being smothered by it all. There were limits to my parent's encouragement. No judgement, just telling it like it is. This said, I have to make an exception for a dish that I prepared on Saturday evening. The below salad is knock-your-socks-off scrumptious. You will find yourself standing up from the dinner table to physically dip half bitten potatoes into more sauce. Once dinner has been packed away in the fridge for the evening, it is quite possible that fingers will return to the vessel to savor the delightful goods therein. I am quite confident that a bowl of these puppies will not last overnight. They didn't at ours at least. Make these immediately. It is quite possible that potatoes will never be the same again.

Potato and Arugula Salad

The Goods

Juice of 2 lemons
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 cloves of garlic - chopped
2 TBS capers
2 TBS caperberries
Kosher salt
3 cups of arugula
2 green onions - chopped
1/2 shallot - chopped
1 cup of flat leaf parsley - chopped
1.5 lbs of small potatoes - you choose the color and sourced local of course
Fresh cracked pepper


1. In a small bowl, combing the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, EVOO, garlic, capers, caperberries, the chopped shallot and a pinch of kosher salt. Set aside.

2. In a large pot, add your potatoes and cover with cold water by approximately an inch. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a furious boil and let cook for 20 minutes. Once finished, drain potatoes and set aside to cool. *Kitchen trick: You know you're done when you can slip a fork in and out of a spud.

3. In a large bowl, add your greens, potatoes and the mixture from step 1. Gently toss. Add parsley and green onions as well as a generous crack or two of pepper. Toss again. Season to taste. Translation: More salt. Taters love salt. Apparently so do I. Bon Appetit.

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