Sunday, August 23, 2009

Grilled Apple Jack Chicken at Blue Ribbon Diner in Mebane, NC

Today we took my son back to college, and we stopped at Blue Ribbon Diner in Mebane, North Carolina. It's right off I40 and about 20 to 30 minutes from UNC-Chapel Hill. If you're headed up I40 from Greensboro to Chapel Hill, you get off the Mebane exit and then turn left. The restaurant is about 1/3 mile on the left. And, they have a sign on the highway too. It's easy to find.

The original Blue Ribbon Diner is in Burlington which is a little further South of Chapel Hill. Business was so good at that restaurant that the two men who opened up Blue Ribbon decided to open the second location.

Jennifer, our waitress who was absolutely terrific, told us that she used to eat at Blue Ribbon when she was a kid. "It got hot standing outside in line," she told us. And, she's glad they opened up a second diner so that they can feed all the folks looking for a delicious diner meal.

Although, Blue Ribbon is called a diner, it's heavy on the burgers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches with the specialty being the grilled chicken sandwich (more about that later). They also sell a lot of the "Dirty Dog" which is a big weiner with chili, cheese, bacon and slaw. The guys thought that sounded good and may order the big hot dog next time.

In diner tradition, Blue Ribbon has blue plate specials ranging from chicken fried steak to homestyle meatloaf. Sunday is the day for chicken pie, and if I had not eaten so much barbecue over the winter and put on a few pounds, I would have loved to have tried that with the two Southern sides. I saw some of the sides go by, and they looked great. They included traditional dishes like mashed potatoes, fried okra, pinto beans, and blackeyed peas. Yum.

I'd also note that most of the sandwich plates came with unlimited french fries. I had plenty, but that might be good news for those with big appetites. They're kind of thick steak fries with a bit of crinkle. Ours were piping hot and nice and crisp.

Here's a fried chicken sandwich. I tried a bite of that. Very tasty. And, the toppings (lettuce and tomato - although you could get gravy on there if you wanted) were super fresh. The tomato looked like local home grown, and the lettuce appeared to be fresh off a full head of iceburg.

I had to try the diner specialty - the grilled chicken sandwich. Jennifer told me that it had a fabulous apple jack sauce on it and that the chicken was sweet but not over the top. She was absolutely right. The balance was perfect. Plus, the chicken was moist and juicy. It was one of the best grilled chicken sandwiches I've ever had at a restaurant. I usually grill chicken at home.

If you're ever on I40 between Greensboro and Raleigh, then check out the Blue Ribbon Diner. Or, take a side trip and check it out. The grilled chicken sandwich is out of this world, and the other meals passing by looked great too.

After that fun lunch, we headed on to UNC-Chapel Hill where I helped the kid move his stuff up to the 10th floor of Morrison. There are more people in his dorm than in our home town. He does have a good view of the trees which will make him feel more at home I hope, and he has a suite with 6 roommates and a living room.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Grilled Burgers and Hot Dogs at the Woodleaf, NC Tomato Festival

Today I went to the Woodleaf, North Carolina Tomato Festival at Unity Presbyterian Church. They've had the festival for quite a while now, but this is the first time I'd had a chance to go.

They had tomato sandwiches (of course). Sadly, I am one Southern girl who does not like tomato sandwiches.

One year, my Dad had a bumper crop of tomatoes. Mom declared that we would eat tomato sandwiches all summer and made us all big, drippy tomato sandwiches slathered with mayonnaise. If there's one thing I like less than tomato sandwiches, it's tomato sandwiches with mayo. The bread gets all soggy which I think is my main problem.

I did the logical thing and buried my sandwich under the pecan tree.

The next year, Mom was trying to figure out why a tomato plant grew under the pecan tree. I think that was God's way of telling me something, but I never did get a taste for tomato sandwiches.

But, I will eat tomatoes plain or on burgers or something.

Lucky for me, they had grilled burgers and hot dogs at the festival. They were cranking those out with the help of College Barbecue of Salisbury, NC which is one of my favorite places to eat especially for breakfast.

At the festival, they had fresh produce from Wetmore Farm and also some homemade jams and jellies. I was wanting to get some sweet potato butter, but Carol hadn't made any up yet. So, I'll have to wait on that. I've only had apple butter, so I'm looking forward to trying the sweet potato butter which another lady told me tastes like sweet potato pie.

The Woodleaf Tomato Festival is a small town festival, and I really do mean small town. You head out Woodleaf-Barber Road and then they have some parking in a field near the church. In addition to the food, they have entertainment, crafts, play areas for the kids, and a yard sale.

Here's my mom and step-dad with a giant tomato (-:

Friday, August 07, 2009

Barbecue Master Slips Off to See Julie & Julia

I took myself to see Julie & Julia today at the theatre, since the boys are off on vacation. Although I bribed the younger one to go see Mamma Mia (mainly because all the hot high school girls were there to watch it), Julie & Julia was a "no go" with the guys.

There's been quite a bit of buzz about Julie & Julia, but if you've not heard about it . . . it's a film about a young married girl in New York who decided to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's and blog about her one-year adventure. So, the film is all about food and cooking and these two true stories. There's romance too. And, I would attest that it is definately a chick flick, although some of the older women had talked a couple of older gentlemen to attend the showing today.

As I was watching the movie, I wondered how our life would be if I'd taken up French cooking rather than outdoor cooking. As the mom of two boys, I frankly can't imagine it. They get a tad nervous about squash, unless I bread and Southern fry it. Also, I can't imagine cooking (especially grilling) wearing a string of pearls, although I do have a nice set from my Granny. Nope. Makes much more sense to put on a Harley t-shirt and tennis shoes.

I sure did enjoy the movie. It was fun to see a girlie movie for a change. I thought about some of those great dishes, but I ended up with chicken on the grill. Hard to beat that though.