I love to go out for lunch. I spend mid-August through early June eating lunch five days a week with my group of 10-12 seventh graders, my advisees. In my classroom. For 20 minutes. Seems barbaric in so many ways. When I tried to explain this to a group of French friends during my first summer in Arles in 2007, they were appalled. That did not improve what they think of Americans as eaters. At my school, we do not have a cafeteria and, truthfully, I am grateful for that. We all bring our lunch and eat in our classrooms. I have a small refrigerator and a microwave so that we can keep things cold and warm up leftovers. Once a month we are more civilized, however, because parents volunteer to bring in hot lunch for us. We live for this. Sometimes it is from a local restaurant or fastfood joint, but often it is homemade. This past year, we enjoyed homemade soups and bread, pasta with homemade sauce, and lemon-chicken with rice. I know that not everyone likes to cook nor do they have time to prepare lunch for us, but I sure look forward to “real” food. So do the kiddies.
Our final treat of the year, while not a complete lunch, is pictured above. One of the moms is a master bread baker and she brought in two loaves of her bread, real butter, cheeses, jams, and desserts for us. She is Finnish and an excellent cook. She treated us to soup earlier in the year, with her bread.
Once school ended this summer, I posted on Facebook that I would be beginning my Summer Lunch Project and that I would love company. Several of my friends have taken me up on it and the fun is well under way. To date–
Blind Squirrel Brewery and Lodge, Plumtree, NC (with the Ex-Ex)
I ate the Trout Po’Boy sandwich and sipped a glass of their cider (made with apples from The Orchard at Altapass in my hometown of Spruce Pine). I didn’t take a photo. Guess I was too hungry to even think of that detail after zip-lining. Beer-battered North Carolina trout, house-made remoulade sauce. I heard that their pizzas are really good, too. Next time. We held the Harris High School Class of 1976 40th reunion there. Dinner was really, seriously good. I sampled everything on the buffet. I felt it was my duty. Thank you, Edie and Will!
Pompieri Pizza, Durham, NC (first with Miss Hulka, then with Arles Lucy and Arles Betty)
I’ve actually had lunch here twice. Just cannot help myself. The BFF works there and it is my mission to introduce everyone I know to the Zeppino sandwich which is served from 11:12am-3:00pm. Pompieri’s pizza dough fashioned into bread for the sandwich, baked, and then filled with deliciousness.
This is The Classic. House-made mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, fresh basil leaves, salad greens, vinegar and lemon olive oil. I also had a bowl of tomato and basil soup served with fresh focaccia bread.
I chose The Mighty Melanzana for my second lunch at Pompieri.
Lovely, isn’t it? Pan-seared eggplant, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, roasted peppers, salad greens, vinegar and basil olive oil. Before living in Provence and working with Chef Érick, I really didn’t eat eggplant. I learned to love it and prepare it in many different ways.
For dessert, the BFF offered up a flight of gelato. Perfect ending.
Dulce Cafe, Durham, NC (by myself)
Son #2 has talked about Dulce for years. Great coffee, Mom. Great pastries, Mom. Great food, Mom. So, I was on that side of town running errands around lunch time and stopped in. The pastries are beautiful- all sweetly lined up. Gelato as well. I chose a macaron for my treat. But lunch first. Although after seeing this sign in the ladies room, I almost devoured the macaron while waiting. But I didn’t.
I chose the daily special- a chipotle chicken wrap with guacamole. I love, love, love avocados. The Ex-Ex is very allergic to them so I don’t have them around the house as often as I would like.
A lime macaron.
I plan to go back for coffee one day soon since I didn’t try it this time.
Bull Street Gourmet and Market, Durham, NC (with Ms. Judy)
We had plans to go to a restaurant in Carrboro but decided to stay in Durham. Bull Street Gourmet is in a little strip shopping center best known for housing my zip code’s post office. Locally owned, fresh ingredients.
I chose The Drunken — salad greens, prosciutto, pine nuts, drunken goat cheese, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. Really good light lunch. I’ve had coffee here before when dashing to the post office, but this was a first for lunch.
Sheetz, Greenville, NC (with the Ex-Ex)
The Ex-Ex and I went to his 40th high school class reunion in Aurora, NC and spent the night with The World’s Best In-Laws in Washington, NC. We left his parents’ house to head home right around brunch time, shall we say. Sheetz fascinates me, I must admit. I’ve stopped in for water and a quick snack in the past and we stopped at one in Pennsylvania once several years ago and ate hot dogs. This time, I opted for a breakfast sandwich. It’s ordered by touchscreen and custom made behind the counter. I watched the guy assemble it.
Double bacon, caramelized onions, fried egg, gooey melted American cheese on toasted bread. I ate every crumb. The coffee was pretty good, too. Real half and half and not in those annoying little cup things. I always squirt the cream all over the place when opening them. I offered the Ex-Ex a bite of my sandwich, but he had chosen a Banana Peanut Butter fritter so he declined. Disappointing from my perspective. No evidence of a real banana and no peanut butter oozing out. I thought maybe he was trying to channel his inner Elvis by choosing this one.
It’s been a very tasty summer so far. I have a couple more lunch dates on my calendar and hopefully more to come before mid-August rolls in.
Bon appétit to all of my lunch buddies, past, present and future! Eat on!