60 MINUTES OUT
(Descriptions of notable places we’ve discovered for Saturday Brunch less than Sixty Minutes from Raleigh).
THE GENERAL STORE – SAXAPAHAW, NC
It has been two years now and most of the renovations to the house are done and Wild Stream Studio is functioning! Throughout that time I have been enjoying the convenience and comfort of working from my home studio but it didn’t take long to recognize that separation of work time and fun time would be very important for the long haul. My husband and I needed a weekend! Sunday mornings were already filled with church so we thought it would be fun to plan something for Saturday mornings that would be different and spontaneous, places we could explore, ….places that were under 60 MINUTES OUT.
Our first Saturday trip was to Saxapahaw for breakfast at the General Store. It had recently been suggested, but I think that it was the fun of saying its name that made it appealing. Then there was the article from the New York Times describing a meal of “coconut curry soup followed by a plate of plump pan-seared diver scallops atop creamy apple-wood bacon succotash and braised asparagus” served right in the middle of a service station – convenience store atmosphere amidst the motor oil and groceries that got our attention. THAT would be different!
We were going for breakfast which we understood was outstanding. It took forty-five minutes to drive from Raleigh getting us to this small village around 9:00. We had a good country breakfast with great house made sausage and sourdough toast but the real deal starts with Brunch at 10:00! By the time we had finished eating our Breakfast, Jeff Barney, the cook, was writing the brunch menu on the caulk board. Oh my gosh! I can’t describe it all here but it looked so good I considered forgetting I had just eaten but fortunately resolved to return for Brunch instead.
Being more in tune with the General Store’s schedule than we were, lots of people started showing up but fortunately for us, “Chris” came early and we enjoyed a delightful visit with him learning about the town, its history, the surrounding art studios and most of all, the Paperhand Puppet Intervention, a group that he works with as a puppeteer, narrator, artist and whatever role needs filling. Falling into the “small world” category, we had just purchased ticket to take our whole family to see them perform at the NC Art Museum. We had seen a piece about the company on Our State, a WUNC-TV program recently and were blown away by the creativity and fun of it all but even more so seeing that this talented ensemble of artists works from this tiny town that seems so far from everything. Chris said that Saxapahaw is actually in the middle of things, drawing from Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro and other nearby towns to find its network of production and performance people. More info at Paperhand.org.
Saxapahaw has the makings of a long, fun day. Starting and ending with great food from the General Store, the rest of the day can be filled with a canoe trip down the Haw River which runs through the town, a visit to the Benjamin Vineyards Winery, visiting Out of the Fire Sculpture Studio, the Saturday Farmers’ Market, and The Eddy, a popular pub. Tours of the Sissipahaw Lofts can be arranged if you’re interested in seeing how an abandoned Textile Mill was turned into an elegant and green community in this picturesque setting. Part of the old mill houses the Haw River Ballroom a beautiful venue for the popular blue grass groups that play there regularly.
This trip, we were home by noon, a great way to start the day. The thought occurred to me as we were driving along unfamiliar roads to destinations unknown taking a little longer than we expected, that maybe next time we should pack a snack and thermos of coffee to tide us over in case we don’t find it!