Homeland Creamery Food Review

Through the sparse, winding back roads approximately fifteen miles south of Burlington, North Carolina sits Homeland Creamery, one of the most raved about places in the area to get ice cream, milkshakes, and more. It’s your classic mom and pop shop, family owned and operated, and open all year long because well, there’s never a bad time for ice cream. Wanting to test it out ourselves, my friend Leah and I hopped in the car and made our way down highway 62 and through the roads covered in fresh fall foliage, say that ten times fast. Right as you’re about to enter the parking lot, you can look to your directly across the road and see the cows and dairy farm up close and personal. 

When we entered the store, we were greeted by the friendly woman behind the counter and endless flavors to choose from. They had their staple year round flavors as well as seasonal options. Think of every classic flavor ice cream joint should have and it was there: chocolate, vanilla, cookies and cream, peanut butter, chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, coffee. Their southern charm shined when we were greeted by less traditional flavors: black cherry, lemon crunch, butter pecan, cupcake, and more. Their seasonal flavors put you right into the holiday spirit with apple pie, pumpkin pie, and peppermint.

I wanted to try a fair share of the ice cream but not take up too much of their time so I sampled a bit of their double dark chocolate, coffee, cookies dough, and chocolate reese cup. All of them were unbelievably creamy with a decadently smooth texture. The flavors were distinct and they had enough chunks of cookie, peanut butter cups, etc. to get a taste of each in every bite. I decided to get two scoops for my order, one double dark chocolate and one cookies and cream. The double dark chocolate was rich enough to taste noticeably more intense than regular chocolate without being overpowering. I had not sampled it prior to choosing but the cookies and cream had a different texture than the rest of the ice creams. It tasted as if it had freezer burn and was not as nearly as smooth as the rest of the flavors. I’m not sure if it was a bad batch or how the recipe for that flavor specifically affected the texture. Overall, Homeland Creamery does a great job at creating creamy and delicious ice cream as well as coming up with popular flavors. The home town feel and welcoming atmosphere left us feeling welcomed as we enjoyed every last bite.


Written by: Hayden McConnell

The Power of Abundance

“We have everything we need, right here at home.”

No one could have said it better. The Piedmont region of North Carolina is home to Abundance North Carolina, an organization whose mission is plain and simple: “Bring people together to exchange ideas and build strong communities resilient in the face of challenge.”

I went into my phone interview with Executive Director of Abundance, Tami Schwerin, with only a brief knowledge of Abundance. I wanted to have a grasp on the foundation’s mission but also be able to learn about it through her perspective.

You might think a simple mission comes with a simple solution, but Abundance’s solution is well, quite abundant. Year round, they are working on various projects ranging from annual events such as the Pepper Festival, to one-off events such as their Renewable Energy and Local Food Summer Camp in 2013. Through working with their local community, they were able to educate more people on the importance of locally sourced food, where it comes from, and even how to grow their own. From there, it bloomed.

Diving deeper into our conversation, I wanted to ask Tami more about sustainability as a whole being that it was one of the driving forces in the organization. She discussed how in 2012 a farmer came to Abundance to inquire if it was possible to discuss sea levels rising and ways in which local farmers could prepare for the ways climate change was affecting their farms. This developed into the now annual Climate Change conference where farmers and interested minds can attend to discuss plans on facing the environmental challenges that drastic weather change brings. 

When asking her about what sustainability means, she said “It’s not sustainable if its only sustainable for a certain demographic” which I think sheds light on something we often forget. Sustainability is meant to encompass more than just facing environmental change, while that is a very important component. Tami discusses how she believes “diversity is the key to strength”. 

Tami went through what every single parent dreads, losing their kid. Following the death of her son, she realized that death is something we all deal with alone and that grieving is a very personal process, but why did it have to be that way? The Death Faire was developed to provide a space for the local community to be able to openly discuss death and grievance. This is why their events, such as the Death Faire and Pecha Kucha (a storytelling event where the community gathers to discuss sustainable topics), are important because it reminds us that in order to be sustainable, we must be open to discussing all challenging topics such as death, race, social justice, and how we treat the environment.

 Abundance is here to remind us that there should always be an open space to talk about the things that scare us because without that, change will never come. 

If you’d like to checkout their website it is listed below. Scroll to the bottom to find their new video “Spirit of Abundance” featuring the wonderful Tami Schwerin!


Written by: Hayden McConnell

Abundance NC’s 12th Annual Pepper Festival

Just off of the tree-lined, winding path of Highway 64 nestled into Piedmont North Carolina lives the quaint, charming town of Pittsboro. While many of its residents embrace small-town values and quiet southern living, Pittsboro is far from traditional. The town is home to individuals with varying passions; artists, farmers, students, and innovators live harmoniously. 
Pittsboro supports software developers, antique shops, biofuel research, art galleries, mom-and-pop businesses and more. This community represents a blend of history and contemporary ideas where the arts and sciences are woven together to create something exceedingly unique. 
While the nature of Pittsboro seems contradictory, the ideas of collaboration and cooperation are ingrained into its values. Community events attract individuals of all backgrounds into the downtown, and this fall, one event stood out from the rest: Abundance NC’s 12th Annual Pepper Festival.  
PepperFest took place on September 22, 2019 from 3-6pm. The festival is hosted by Abundance North Carolina, an organization that cultivates and celebrates community resilience. This annual, outdoor event is a celebration of sustainable agriculture, local farmers, and the creativity of the Piedmont’s chefs, brewers and artisans.

Pepper-themed dishes made with locally grown North Carolina peppers, provided by Abundance NC, are served to over 3000 hungry patrons each year. 
As we approached the festival, the popularity and energy of the events was obvious. Main Street Pittsboro was lively with families and foodies eager to partake in the pepper-filled festivities. For only $35 we were free to sample a large selection of food and beverages with spice levels ranging from sweet bell peppers to sweltering habaneros. 
Eager to try the spicy creations, we made our way to the main street to check-in where each attendee received one spork to use in hopes to reduce waste of plastic utensils. The emphasis on environmental consciousness promised by Abundance NC was made even more clear as we passed three electric cars being shown off by the Triad Electrical Vehicle Association. The futuristic Teslas contrasted starkly with the historic brick courthouse just across the street. The festival featured several more environmental initiatives beyond the spork including compostable cups for samples and recycling bins that lined the street.
We spent the next hour walking up and down the line of white tents while melodies from live bands echoed in the background. We sampled everything we could get our hands on; pepper beer that made our lips burn, hot Louisiana style jambalaya, cold gazpacho, smoky sausages and more. Each item was spicer and more flavorful than the last. By the end we were full and hot, whether from the spicy peppers or the 80 degree North Carolina sun.
The Pittsboro Pepper Festival was a unique experience that reflected the town’s values of environmental sustainability and community engagement. We left PepperFest with a great appreciation for local farmers, culinary creativity and – of course – peppers.
Written by: Leah Graf

A Taste of Saxapahaw: The Eddy Pub

Set on the banks of the idyllic Haw River in the quiet, quirky town of Saxapahaw is a farm-to-fork eatery that is serving up its own version of pub fair. The Eddy Pub, the name eddy referring to a resting place on the river, has been creating unique dishes ranging from classic southern comfort to European bistro delicacies. The restaurant opened in doors in 2010 with hopes to feel like ‘Saxapahaw’s living room.’
Eddy Pub is committed to using local, organic produce, as well as GMO-free protein and sustainably caught fish. A driving force behind this value for high-quality, nutrient rich ingredients is Executive Chef and local farmer Isaiah Allen. Allen’s passion for cooking and his dedication to the eat local movement and sustainable cuisine elevates the community culture in the Eddy. The restaurant engages its neighbors such as Haw River Farmhouse Ales, Left Bank Butchery, Saxapahaw Village Bakehouse and other local vendors by featuring their products on its menu.
The menu presents a variety of options laid out into several categories including cheese and charcuterie, small plates and sides, traditional pub fare, chef’s creations, and desserts. The kitchen also offers a daily dinner special, a separate brunch menu and an extensive wine and beer list.  
As we walked into Eddy Pub on a late September evening, the comforting ambiance of the wooden tables and exposed brick drew us in, while soothing songs from a live guitarists echoed throughout the small restaurant. We sat in the corner next to a window overlooking the renovated river mill lofts across the quiet street and eagerly scanned the menu.
While it was surprising to see classic pub favorites like Shepherd’s Pie and Bangers & Mash on the same page as Korean dishes like a Fried Rice Bowl and Chicken & Pumpkin Dakjuk, it was clear that each dish supported locally and ethically sourced foods. I opted for a charcuterie and cheese board that featured several local meat and dairy farmers, a beer from the tap room just below the pub, and the special dinner entree consisting of fresh scallops and succotash. 
The charcuterie and cheese board came out first, and although it was small, it was packed with flavor. The bacon jam and Goat Lady Dairy Chevre stood out as my favorites – the jam was the perfect combination of 
sweet and savory, while the goat cheese was light and creamy. After washing down the appetizer with a crisp, hoppy Haw River Farmhouse IPA, my main course was served. 
I have never not loved a scallops that I have eaten, and Eddy Pub’s scallops were no exception. The spicy succotash was an excellent contrast to the creamy, buttery fish. The texture of each bite was perfect, the flavors were vibrant.

I do wish that the dish had been warmer and I could have eaten several more scallops, but overall I was very satisfied with my meal. 

I am eager to return to this Saxapahaw gem to experience more of Chef Allen’s culinary creations. The Eddy Pub is an essential component of the cultural rebirth that is putting this former mill town in rural piedmont North Carolina on the map.
Written by: Leah Graf

Magnolia 23 (Asheboro, NC)

By Soula Kosti

Magnolia 23 is a small restaurant on 23 South Fayetteville Street in Asheboro, NC. This restaurant takes pride in its home-cooking and soul food. The owners have created a homey, Southern spot with the Southern-style fried chicken as their specialty. They promise their customers the real deal.


This small place is closed three times a week, and has some weird times. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, they open at 11 a.m. and close at 2 p.m., and then reopen at 5 p.m. and close at 8 p.m. On Sunday, they open at 11 a.m. and close at 3 p.m. We went on a Sunday, right before Thanksgiving week and they were planning to stay closed for the entire week. However, many people waited in line and it seemed a popular place, as we had to wait for about 15-20 minutes.


Magnolia 23 offers no menu, as they include different items depending on the day of the week. Even though, there isn’t a big variety, the portions are pretty generous. People who choose meat can get two sides. When we went, we both got the fried chicken, that they say is 63rd best on the entire nation. They give you the choice between white and dark meat, and we both chose white. We both got the white roll instead of the corn bread. My sides were the mashed potatoes and the slaw, while my companion’s were the mac n cheese and the yums. The chicken was absolutely amazing. It was served hot, falling of the bone, and as crisp as it should be. The sides were good, but we could definitely say that the chicken was the star of the plate. The staff was also nice and friendly. The owner is always around and goes from table to table to introduce himself, make sure everything is good, and get to meet his customers.


            Since we had to wait in line to be seated, we got the chance to explore the restaurant’s decorations. As you walk in there is a table with a sign on it saying how Magnolia 23 was voted 63rd on the nation for its fried chicken. The walls have boards with the menu of the day and a personal statement, including phrases such as “our food is made from scratch and most importantly made from love.” In the back of the restaurant, there are many family pictures that give the place more of that homey feel and vibe, and also a big map so people can add the place they came from. When the owner came to talk to us, he actually suggested that we should add our home to the map, and so we did.

lucettegrace Review

By Soula Kosti

During our long trip around the places Highway 64 connects, our last destination in the Piedmont area was Raleigh. Once we finished our drive around Raleigh, we decided to stop at a bakery and satisfy our sweet tooth. The place that was closest to our location and we decided to stopped was luccettegrace. None of us had been there before so that was a great new experience for all. We parked right across the street and we easily found the small bakery. The front view of the store is full of glass and gives the pedestrians a view of the inside of the bakery, as well as, a view of the road for those dining in. The inside of the pastry shop is very bright and colorful. The dark brick wall contrasts with the bright chairs and colorful writing on the wall in a perfectly balanced way.

This bakery’s menu offers lunch, beverages, as well as pastries, but we were there just for the later. Jessica and Maritza got the Macaron Gift 


Box, which included 8 macarons with different flavors of their choice. I got the Churro Bun and the Candy Bar Cake. As they described them, the Churro Bun is a cinnamon sugar dusted croissant filled with vanilla cream, and the Candy Bar Cake includes chocolate hazelnut praline mousse, praline chocolate crunch, brown butter cake, and praline cream. Jessica and Maritza said they loved the apple pie flavored macaron, while Maritza wasn’t a big fan of the rose. I wasn’t a big fan of the churro bun, but I enjoyed the candy bar cake.


lucettegrace could be described as a french-type bakery, which includes a contemporary menu. The portions aren’t very generous compared to the price, but desserts can be that way. There wasn’t a big variety either, but the staff was pretty friendly. The bakery’s motto is “lucettegrace is a starting point for your day, an escape in the middle, and a reward at the end.” They are located in 235 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC, and they are open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Daniel’s Restaurant and Catering

By Jessica Mohr

This review is special to me because I have been going to Daniel’s Restaurant and Catering for as long as I can remember. Whenever extended family came into town from Philadelphia, we would always take them here for a delicious Italian meal that was also reasonably priced, especially when compared to some of the places in Raleigh or Cary that were also on the list of “grandparent accepted” restaurants in the area. In addition to being affordable and delicious, Daniel’s is right down the road from my house! Google Maps calculates it as 1.8 miles away. That’s walkable, if you’re desperate. Due to my long history with this place, and its location 0.8 miles from Highway 64, Daniel’s was a natural choice for this review. 

The appetizer I selected for this review is their arancini. For those of you who have never experienced the Italian magic, arancini is a deep-fried ball of risotto with a gooey glob of cheese in the middle, served over homemade tomato sauce. I like it with extra Parmesan cheese on top and more pepper than most people deem tasteful. Not only are Daniel’s arancini large (think tennis balls), they are also robust and substantial. As soon as you cut into them you know there’s about to be a party in your mouth — the hearty, warm smell of a well-made risotto combined with melted mozzarella cheese comes wafting out of the ball, inspiring a reaction I can only describe as excitement. The first thing you notice when you take a bite is how crisp the fried outer shell is. Despite sitting in a bed of moist tomato sauce, that outer shell is still sharp and crisp when you take a bite out of it.

Once you get through the fried outer shell, flavorful risotto and creamy mozzarella cheese greet you on the inside. Risotto is an Italian staple made with rice, meat broth, onions, garlic, fresh herbs, and usually some butter for good measure. Whoever Daniel is, I want to find him and ask him where he gets his seasonings, because this is some of the most intense flavor I’ve ever experienced out of a risotto, and I’ve been to Italy! This appetizer reminded me of the small hole-in-the-wall restaurant my mother and I ate at no less than three times during our two-day visit to Florence. Everything in Daniel’s arancini tasted fresh, authentic, and vibrant.

While I could survive on arancini alone if I really put my mind to it, I also opted for an entree, and what better dish to select for the main course than pasta? There were plenty of “pastabilities” on the menu, but I decided to go for the house favorite: penne alla casa. This is, as written on the menu, “a heavenly concoction of red sauce and cream, garlic, Romano cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and spinach.” I also added chicken so I could pretend I was having something healthy. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this dish as well. The sauce was indeed heavenly, with just the right amount of kick from the garlic, the pasta was nice and al dente, and the chicken was well-prepared. The only critique I had was that there was a bit too much spinach in the mix for my liking, but that’s too much a personal preference for me to count it as a negative aspect of their recipe. After all, I had more than enough pasta to eat off of for three days after my meal, and that’s far more exciting than worrying about the quantity of spinach. Between the leftovers and the half a loaf of garlic bread in the takeout bag, I was one happy customer.

Lexington Barbecue Festival- 2017

By Jessica Mohr

For me, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a North Carolina barbeque festival is the smell. That scent of pigs parts being slowly roasted over a variety of wood wafts all around you, and you can’t get the vague taste of barbeque sauce out of the clothes you were wearing until they’ve been washed three times are all landmark experiences when it comes to barbecue festivals.  Unfortunately, these things were not present at the 2017 Lexington BBQ Festival.

Before we get into my criticisms of the festival, let’s start off on a sunny side! Lexington, on a normal day, is a small, quaint North Carolina town with a sign for barbecue restaurants just about as frequently spaced down the road as they do signs for churches. Small, local joints with their own secret sauces and methods of smoking pig parts line the road down the center of town. Even as you drive up on 64, you can tell you’re approaching Lexington by the increasing number of billboards advertising for these local joints, as well as the large one advertising the annual, famous Lexington BBQ Festival. This is, without a doubt, a barbeque town.

Upon arriving at the festival, I was surprised to notice the remarkably normal smell of the town. When you’re going to a BBQ festival, you expect to smell some of the food you’re going to be sampling, right? We’ve all seen the TV shows of pitmasters going ham (pun intended) on half a pig over a bed of crackling wood or charcoal. After continuously being slathered in rich, homemade barbecue sauce, the meaty smells of pork and sauce waft over everything nearby. There was none of this in Lexington. If anything, I smelled more of the gas station down the road than any sort of pork products. Even while standing outside the sole barbeque food tent, I couldn’t really smell anything distinctly pork-ish, at least until I unwrapped my sandwich from its tinfoil prison.

Overall, I would say I was definitely underwhelmed by the Lexington BBQ Festival this year. There were more flea market-style merchants selling trinkets than there were actual barbecuers selling delicious pork foods, and, to be completely honest, the fried apple pie I bought from a church stand was far more satisfying than the small sandwich from the sole BBQ food tent in the middle of town. Given the hype and cartoon pig proudly advertising the festival as a BBQ festival, the event itself was not what I expected. Maybe something has changed within the town to alter the “flavor” of the festival, and make it more driven by miscellaneous vendors than restaurants? Maybe this was just a fluke year, and it will be back to normal in 2018?

Thankfully, a representative from the governing board of the festival reported that they are indeed aware of the overabundance of miscellaneous and redundant vendors, as well as the disappointingly low number of actual barbeque stands. I was happy to hear that they are planning to begin regulating vendors at the festival more stringently in upcoming years. In the recent past, the overseers of the event decided to relax regulations on who is allowed to set up shop during the festival. This, as we’ve seen, allowed people selling artisanal soap and postcards to be more prevalent than actual barbeque stands. In order to make the Lexington BBQ Festival just that again, a BBQ festival, the governing board is prepared to take action in order to restore the smells of pork to Lexington once again. I will be very excited to go back next year and see how they are doing.

Piedmont Travelogue

By Jessica Mohr

On a sunny morning in late October, my travel group and I set out in my mom’s Chevy Avalanche for a day-long road trip around central North Carolina. From Elon to Lexington, we enjoyed taking in the sights of I-40, a busy, industrial road linking countless towns and cities together. However, the real adventure didn’t start until we hopped on Highway 64 heading out of Lexington. I-40 is great for getting where you need to go in a timely fashion, but this stretch of 64 through Franklinville and Ramseur is more for sightseeing and enjoying North Carolina’s great fall beauty, unless you live out there, of course. The tops of the trees are just beginning to turn orange, yellow, and red — a striking contrast to the sharp blue sky against which they are set.


Driving on 64 through this rural section of the state was a welcome change from the more developed and crowded cities I’ve come to call home: Apex and Elon. By no means are either of these towns a bustling metropolis, but they are certainly busier than downtown Ramseur, NC. While driving through both Franklinville and Ramseur, we hardly encountered any traffic, even though we were there around lunchtime. Pedestrians waved cordially to us, giving the impression that these were towns where everyone knows everyone, and newcomers/tourists/visitors are few and far between, except when related to long-time residents. Ramseur’s defining characteristic was mainly its evident history as an industrial town; old factory buildings and mills lined the roads, and regardless of how long they’d been abandoned or repurposed, they still bore the name associated with that previous life proudly.


Unfortunately, the roads that wound through Ramseur made one of our travelers a little motion sick. After stopping on solid land (read: an empty Arby’s parking lot) until she regained her equilibrium, we rolled out once again, this time aiming for my hometown of Apex! This stretch of 64 was one that I was significantly more familiar with, as I’d been driving on it since I was old enough to have a learner’s permit. As we got closer to the new Chipotle off 64 just past the demolition site that used to be my high school, I was able to put on my tour guide hat! Granted, I didn’t know any super interesting historical facts about the highway or the places we were going by. My tour guide knowledge consisted mainly of things like “that’s the neighborhood where my best friend from high school lived! She’s now off getting a doctorate in how to save the world from Stanford,” and “this is the new toll road, we’re all pissed about it because it’s only a toll road around Apex/Cary and is free everywhere else.” Local tidbits are my specialty, not a broad historical perspective.


After a delicious lunch stop, we loaded up the truck once more for the final leg of our drive – Apex into Raleigh. Since my house is 20 minutes away from downtown Raleigh (15 on a good day), this was a blissfully short drive, comparatively. Remarkably, none of my travel group mates had ever been to Raleigh! On again went my tour guide hat. We drove the length (and width) of the city center multiple times, being sure to circle the Governor’s Mansion multiple times until we could all get a peek at it through the large, leafy trees obscuring most of the view. We also saw the courthouse, museums, convention center, and the beautiful tree mural that shimmers in the wind. Since we couldn’t let a trip into Raleigh not include sampling the local food, we stopped at a small bakery called Lucette Grace, which was a fun combination of French rustic and sleek modern lines on the inside. After snapping some photos and each filling one of the bakery’s bright yellow boxes with 8 assorted macaroons, we meandered back to the truck to head home to Elon, all with a better understanding of how this historic highway winds through the Piedmont region.

Piedmont Profile

By Nicole Galante            

The Piedmont leg of Highway 64 is much more than a collection of small country towns. It is historical, diverse–it encapsulates the spirit of North Carolina. 

We began our journey in Lexington, North Carolina: home of the nation’s famous barbeque festival. Like one would expect from a small country town, Lexington’s downtown strip has ol’ southern character. Its main street is lined with boutiques, family owned restaurants, and pigs. Yes, pink pig statues line the sidewalk, paying homage to the barbeque that put the small town on the national map.

From Lexington, we wound down two-lane Highway 64 to get to Asheboro. This second stop on our journey brought us to a town bigger than the one we came from. Asheboro has distinct southern charm, much like Lexington, but its scale is larger. On the downtown strip, tourists can stop into a secondhand bookstore, get coffee next door, and finish their trip off with a nice dinner at a local establishment. If you’re in Asheboro during September, make sure to visit the town’s Fall Festival for even more fun.

Passing Asheboro is where Highway 64 begins to get a bit bumpy. The roads grow windier and windier, and the trees begin to close in. If you’re a back-seater like I was, beware: car sickness comes at you quickly.

As the road got straighter and my car sickness began to subside, the Highway brought us to Franklinville, and then Ramseur. The interesting thing about these two towns is that, despite their close proximity, each is distinct. It was easy to see where Franklinville ended and where Ramseur began. Small southern towns are not, it would appear, completely universal. Each has its own charm to offer tourists driving through. As quickly as they arrive, though, they’re gone: nothing more than small points in our rearview mirror as we continued down the highway.

Siler City, Saxapahaw, and Pittsboro passed in a similar fashion. Each brought its unique charm, but passed with blinding brevity. Then, we hit Apex, a town much larger than we were expecting. Apex is not your typical country town like Franklinville or Ramseur. It is commercialized, colonized, and growing in all directions. Costcos, Citgos, and Chipotles can be found at each intersection you past. While the town may have started small, it’s grown into something much larger today.

Apex prepared us well for our final stop: Raleigh. Highway 64 no longer runs through the heart of downtown, but we drove the course where it used to stand. Downtown Raleigh is the epitome of civilization, unrecognizable from its fellow Highway 64 towns. Raleigh visitors can admire the city’s skyscrapers, go to museums, spend hundreds of dollars on dinner, and even visit the governor’s house. If excitement is your thing, then Raleigh is the place to be.

At the conclusion of our six hour trip, we were exhausted, saturated with an overwhelming amount of sights and information–but it was worth it. Before this trip, we never believed that North Carolina could be so diverse and full of life. It goes to show you that no two towns are exactly alike, and you can find hidden treasures in the unlikeliest of places.