Archive for the 'NC desserts' Category


Scratch, a bakery that makes you want to become a regular

Every town in American deserves a place like Scratch. It’s a small bakery with a down-home feel in Durham, NC. This part of downtown Durham was never fully commercially “revived,” despite decades of efforts. So there’s a certain peaceful eeriness to the area, where small pockets of independently owned cafes, boutiques, and shops sit in the shadow of (or inside) former tobacco warehouses.

We paid Scratch a visit on a Sunday. The area around the bakery was so quiet, a group of teens were skateboarding down the middle of the road with glorious abandon.

I like a bakery that serves savory options side-by-side with the sweets. We had the sausage biscuits, which were probably the ungreasiest I’ve had in my life (for those of you who prefer a bit of biscuit with your butter instead, head to Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen) and a side of cheddar grits that would promptly shut down any misconceptions about grits being bland.

As for the sweets, Mr. X-sXe got the chocolate sea-salt crostata. It was so rich, you could split it 3 ways and leave perfectly satisfied.  It had too much chocolate filling, if that’s even possible.

I went for the lemon chess pie, figuring that if there was only 1 slice left, it had to be good. And it was. Not overly sweet, good level of tartness, flaky crust. I’m generally not a huge pie fan,* but  I’m definitely a fan of these pies.

*Unless it’s key lime or pumpkin, which should be available year-round.


Locally sourced popsicles, popping up everwhere

Shortly after learning about the Pleasant Pops truck in DC, we stumbled on Locopops in Chapel Hill, a local chain. Its cheery storefront has taken over a former laundromat next to Great Harvest bread.

Summer always comes early to NC (like DC, spring is just a fleeting hope), so when we visited over Memorial Day it was hot as the third circle of hell. The Locopops were a great way to cool down. And guilt-free, if you opt for a no-sugar flavor like the cucumber-mint on the right.

For something sweeter, try a flavor like the Mojito (left). Like Baskin-Robbins’ daiquiri ice, it’s a refreshing cocktail-inspired flavor with no alcohol kick. (Even though I always felt like I was getting away with something when I used to order the daquiri ice in junior high.)


Ringing in 2011 with a flashback to 1986

You often hear people talking about smells can trigger memories. The same must go for taste, since the 2011 cake from Durham’s Guglhupf bakery brought me back to the Swiss Colony petit fours of my youth. (As a kid, they epitomized exotic French desserts, so small and perfectly formed.) Must’ve been the alternating layers of mousse and layer cake. All it lacked was that chocolate-y coating.

The orange-cranberry cheesecake and raspberry brownie were good, but unmemorable. Still, if you’re ever in the Triangle area of NC, this bakery is worth a visit–an oasis of buttery goods off a nondescript road. There’s a bakery/patisserie where you can order breads, croissants, and desserts to go, as well as a sit-down cafe.

Plus, the Asian supermarket is right next door, so you can nip over for a tin of Cafe du Monde chicory coffee (sometimes used to make Vietnamese coffee) to go with your takeaway treats.


K&W: There’s something reassuring about a place where you can get pie for a buck

Technically it’s $1.35+ a slice, but still. K&W Cafeterias, which we try to hit it when I’m visiting my folks in NC, holds a special place in my heart because you can get a tray full of food for about $10. It’s targeted to the dine-at-5PM-crowd, a cafeteria-style joint where you can count on options aplenty (including lots of soul food), servers that bark at you, and quivering blocks of Jello embedded with random flotsam and jetsam. Because K&W is geared toward an older crowd, some of the main dishes are overcooked to the point of being gum-able. So I mostly stick with the dishes like fried chicken, fried fish, and fried okra–ask for a side of ranch with it, and you’ll rethink okra.

You might not feel very good about yourself after your K & Dub indulgence, but at least you’re not eating like that every day (are you??).

This was a German chocolate pie and an egg custard pie. The former was too treacly for me; the latter I’d get again. It had a lightness and consistency that reminded me of Chinese egg tarts. Now if only I’d had a piece of crispy bacon to go with it.