A Taste of Durham
June 10, 2013
“You want to go to Durham just for peanut butter?”
My husband looked at me as if I’d said something crazy. Sure we live 500 miles from Durham, but he married a girl who writes a blog about peanut butter. This shocking lack of understanding made me question our marriage.
Okay, I’m crazy, but not that crazy. We happened to be on a road trip from FL to NJ and I requested a stop in Durham on the way home. As you may know, I LOVE peanut butter - and this wasn’t just any peanut butter.
Big Spoon Roasters tastes great, it’s natural, and it’s made with high-quality ingredients in small batches. It’s run by a very nice guy named Mark Overbay who cares deeply about flavor, nutrition and sustainability, among other things. You should read the inspiring tale behind Mark’s line of nut butters and peek at his unique flavors so that you can understand my enthusiasm for them.
I have been following his brand on twitter for a long while, so my feed has long been sprinkled with delicious-looking tweets and photos. While it’s sad that I can’t always hop in the car and drive a couple of minutes to seek out whatever he’s posting, the upside is that the suspense made our visit that much more exciting. My friends have spent the past few weeks counting down to the new episodes of Arrested Development, but I’ve had my own final countdown to peanut butter.
At long last, the day had come! We found ourselves at the farmer’s market where Mark patiently served me sample after sample. I hemmed and hawed over which jars to take home as edible souvenirs.
They’re too hard to read in that pic, but check out the impressively simple lists of ingredients proudly displayed on the front of the jars. Each flavor is special, but there was one specific flavor that I was dying to try: Chai Spice Nut Butter.
Oh, and it was so worth the wait!
If you are at least a casual chai drinker like myself, you might know that there is good chai, and then there’s bad, overly syrupy or weirdly spiced chai. It can be a hit or miss flavor profile, but this butter is perfectly spiced without being too sweet. It also has a fun story behind it: Mark’s wife Megan loves chai, so he created it to use as their wedding favors [aww] and it was so well-received that he started selling it to the lucky masses. [Yay!]
Speaking of his wife - she started a line of no-bake energy bars that are made with his peanut butter. I tasted the #5 which had a lovely balance of dried fruits, chewy oats, rich dark chocolate and cocoa nuts and cocoa nibs. Chock full of healthy ingredients, the bar packs such a bright and fresh flavor that would work as a great reward on any day or as a burst of energy before a workout.
As good as it was, I confess that I did not work out after eating mine- though I considered putting on my sneakers and running back to the market to buy more. Don’t be fooled by its humble appearance; it is truly one of the best energy bars I’ve ever eaten.
The bars are not currently available for mail order, but you can find them at the wonderful Durham Farmer’s Market.
We visited the market on its “small” day, according to our hosts but there were plenty of stands showcasing beautiful produce and even some fabulous jams.
We stopped by on our way out of town to pick up more edible souvenirs - this time some kale and green onions. (I made Emily-Kate pose with her beautiful onions)
We only had a day to spend in Durham, but between meeting such nice people and eating / drinking some amazing things, suffice it to say we will be back.
If you are planning a visit, here are a few other edible recommendations:
- Cocoa Cinnamon: A coffee-house that strives for such perfection that they are currently in “beta” mode. I’m not sure why though, since they seem to have it down pat. Their Sea Lion latte (chocolate, cinnamon and molasses) was dynamite.
- Fullsteam Brewery: A large brewery on a fun street that’s shared by other bars and rotating food trucks.
- Rise: Their donut flavors change every day and they make one with Big Spoon Roasters’ PB.
- Recommendations by The Gourmez: Guglhupf, Parker and Otis, Wine Authorities and Bean Traders.
- Loaf: One of the best croissants I’ve ever had - and that’s coming from a regular patron of NYC’s famed Balthazaar. They also sell CPB Pain au Chocolat on Thursdays made with Big Spoon Roasters’ PB. We devoured these:
It’s been really fun to travel the country and eat our way through cities like Durham. The hardest part about it is choosing what to eat during the short period of time we’re in each place.
“Which flavors should I get??”
“Why not buy them all?”
I take it back. He gets me.
Now… where’s my spoon?