Flowers to Magnolia

I agree that Greg Cox got it right in The News & Observer today with the majority of his best restaurant picks for 2011 in the Triangle. I certainly agree with the top pick, Magnolia Grill in Durham, N.C.

It’s easy to forget that, long before the boom in Triangle restaurants and when the idea of “eat local” made diners scratch their heads, chef Ben Barker was out in front. Twenty years ago, the fact that he asked local farmers to actually grow produce just for him was weird enough to warrant articles. Now, connecting with local producers is an accepted fact for restaurants with any aspirations. Not to mention the restaurant kitchens that are populated with Magnolia Grill graduates. Read the rest of the list here and see what you think.

It’s been a big time for the Triangle in publications. Bon Appetit finally discovered us, and the February issue is plump with mentions of  Triangle goodies, from hot sauce Cackalacky (one of my favorites, it includes sweet potatoes as an ingredient) to a piece called “One Rowdy Night in Carolina.”

When I see national (usually New York-based) publications write about North Carolina, I think of a time a decade or so ago when I contacted the New York Times about a place they wrote about that was listed as being in this state. I hadn’t heard of it. When I got hold of the writer, he gave me the location – in a town in SOUTH Carolina. When I pointed out his error, he replied: “Aren’t they the same?”

For a magazine who knows North Carolina, the current issue of Our State is food themed and stuffed with sweet goodies. The cover, showing a maple syrup and, yes, country ham cake, should have been printed in scratch-and-sniff.