Cultivating a New Appreciation for Pork, Thanks to North Carolina

Last night I went to my first cooking class at my new favorite store in Chapel Hill, A Southern Season. For $45 I watched the chefs from Carolina Crossroads, the restaurant at the Carolina Inn, make and serve a delicious three course meal. Everything about it was wonderful. I loved learning about how they pick ingredients and who their local suppliers are. All three courses were wonderful, but the one that I appreciated the most, was the main course which used pork loin for its protein.

I will be honest. Pork has frightened me in the past. Aside from varieties of bacon and maybe some Carolina-style pulled pork bbq, I have done precious little with pork. The old campaign for pork as “the other white meat” only made me more skeptical of pork, and with good reason. According to the chefs at Carolina Crossroads, “the other white meat” campaign almost ruined pork by insisting on removing all of the fat and leaving it bland and tough. Fortunately, today’s pork not only is full-flavored, but when purchased from a free-range pork farm (which happen to be found in abundance in North Carolina) is best eaten like a steak, at medium rare. Heavenly. Many new experiments with pork in my kitchen are in my future.

Interestingly enough, I just checked over at the current menu at Carolina Crossroads, and don’t see pork on their summer entree menu. What’s up with that? After they got me sold on their delicious locally-raised pork last night, why is it missing from their menu? Am I missing something? Is pork not a summer food?

Luckily, tonight we are trying out Four Square in Durham, that does appear to have local pork on their July/August menu.

As a side note, I love how so many restaurants here in the Triangle have some statement on their websites about their local suppliers. I never knew how much I would love actually knowing about the origination of the ingredients for your meal.

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