Saturday was one of our best days so far in Durham. With the combination of sunshine, good company and an amazing array of some of the finest food this funky town has to offer how could it not be?
The Fuqua Partners have been a busy bunch in August, with a serious amount of activities on the agenda for both first and second year partners. If you’re lucky sometimes students even get invited and it was to be the case for the Taste Carolina walking food tour of Durham. Naturally I happily accepted the invitation!
We set off for downtown and met up with a group of about 25 Fuqua partners and students in the heart of the city.
Most of the students were pretty pumped to be out and about on a Saturday afternoon, with a significant number of our classmates locked up in team rooms working on case assignments. For us however microfinance could wait a few hours. We had food and beer to try!
Our tour guide was a second year partner who moonlighted as a guide for Taste Carolina and this made for a really personalized experience for our group. In between filling us in on the history of Durham and the background of our foodies she offered valuable advice on surviving fall term, internships and assured us everyone will survive.
After the customary intros we headed for Bull City Burger and Brewery, the first stop on our culinary adventure. Jess and I had already experienced the magnificence of these burgers but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm to be heading back there. These guys are super passionate about burgers, making everything except the Heinz ketchup on site. This even includes the mayo!
They are also very passionate about pasture raised beef and the sustainability of American agriculture in general so we got a nice eye opening backgrounder whilst enjoying some burgers, beer and pickle chips.
We were on a tight schedule so after finishing our beer (a nice Scottish style beverage) it was off to recent Durham addition, Loaf.
Started by a hobby baker who is actually a Professor, these guys produce European style breads and baked goods out of a custom made brick oven. For a big fan of big, crusty sourdoughs this place was heaven. That was before I tried their pain au chocolats…
They use the brick oven to make everything from breads to croissants, scones and tarts; heating it up and baking throughout the night. The results are outstanding, rivaling La Gallette de France in Subi Markets, and this will be a regular haunt on weekends. They also sell at the Farmer’s Market which will come in handy.
Up next was Reliable Cheese.
Most passionate foodie of the day definitely goes to the owner of this place. He oozed passion and knowledge about cheese. It made me want to settle in, crack a bottle of red and just listen to him talk about cheese while we indulged.
Alas we had places to be, foods to try so we had to settle for a couple of cheeses, some pimento spread and Wisconsin crackers. It was a tease and at this rate we’ll be moving to a French style diet of baguette, cheese and wine pretty quickly if the cheeses we tried are anything to go by.
For Marie and Nina back home Jess has already pencilled this in as one of the first places to take you guys when you make it Durham!
After picking up a quick Jamaican ginger beer for the road (which they also made in house), we trekked across town to Piedmont.
Piedmont is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in town, showcasing the best produce from the Piedmont region in a downtown Durham setting. The restaurant itself is beautiful with nice high ceilings and huge windows to the street. They regularly change the menu to feature the best in seasonal produce so it was all about tomatoes and eggplant for our taster.
It was beautifully presented as the picture at the top shows and the taste didn’t disappoint. Interesting textures combined with the freshness of the produce to make a nice and light appetizer.
It was enough to put it on the list as a perfect date night venue for later in the year.
From there it was off to one of my favorite parts of town – the American Tobacco complex. It’s near the ballpark for starters but it’s also home to a great collection of restaurants and bar in renovated old tobacco warehouses.
Our stop was L’uva, a modern Italian joint serving antipasti and pasta in a contemporary setting. We were to be treated to some bruschetta and risotto. They didn’t disappoint.
As a disclaimer I’m a huge fan of bruschetta so this was right up my alley. With basil pesto, tomato and mozzarella it was a combination made in heaven. Complimenting it was an asparagus risotto which was nice and hearty after the walk across town.
Here the combination of simple Italian food, attentive waitstaff and the impressive interior are definitely a winner.
Final stop was another of my early Durham favorites… Tyler’s Taproom.
This place is a beer drinkers heaven. They have a HUGE selection of tap beers, from IPAs, to stouts, lagers and even shandys for those so inclined. I’ve already managed to experience the magic of Tylers a few times since arriving in Durham.
Today we had the privilege of trying four beers, with an introduction to each by a very knowledgeable beer geek. It was a great, relaxed way to finish the afternoon with a group of new friends. Promises were definitely made to share a few more Durham foodie experiences with each other in the not too distant future.
This particular Saturday in Durham is going to take some beating. If you’re ever in the Bull City I’d highly recommend the Taste Carolina crew, or you could just settle in at Tyler’s…