Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Big Ed's

I actually ventured out of Durham yesterday.  Yes, I did.  High school-age son's basketball team is playing in a tournament in the city of Cary.  Just a few miles down I-40.  It was an exciting game.  Our team was down by about 12 points with around 2 minutes left to play and we won by 1.  I use the royal we here because other than giving birth to a boy who has grown to be 6'2 and is pretty quick and can shoot a mean 3-pointer now and then, I didn't have much to do with the outcome of the game.  As a matter of fact, I was so bad at playing basketball in PE class in middle school and high school that even my really good friend, the tallest girl in the class therefore always chosen to be a captain by the gym teacher, wouldn't choose me for her team unless she had to.  I survived with my ego in tact, though.  I love to watch the games and cheer for our boys.
Another game today.  And one or two tomorrow.
After the game, we were invited to lunch at Big Ed's at City Market in downtown Raleigh.  Yes, I even made it to the capital city yesterday!  The restaurant is owned by the parents of one of my son's teammates.  They bought it in 2006 from Big Ed himself.  Big Ed has a permanently reserved table and chair, though, and drops in whenever he is in town.  Being the lifelong Southerner that I am, I can really appreciate good Southern cooking and this is the real deal.  Big Ed's is open for breakfast and lunch.  They boys ate some of both, I think.
They were looking at a framed drawing on the wall of the stars of The Andy Griffith Show.  (Yes, Don Knotts played Barney.)  I can assure you that a hush fell over their table when the biscuits and cornbread arrived.  (I was lucky to sneak in this photo before I was given "the look.")
I love cornbread.  Big Ed's did not disappoint.  Very moist.  Just a little sweet.  Mrs. H was showing someone at the table how to make a hole in your biscuit and fill it up with molasses.  I hadn't done that in many, many years.  And I only watched it being done at lunch.  By the time I finished my cornbread, all the biscuits had disappeared!  One of my aunts on my mom's side was an amazing biscuit maker.  We would mix up molasses and butter and then spread it on her biscuits as they came out of the oven.
The BFF (her son is on the basketball team, too) chose country-style steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and deviled eggs.  Barfly aka Stud Muffin (this is what happens when you let someone choose their own alias for your blog-- beware!) gave me a bite (okay, two) of his fried pork chop.  I offered to share my chicken and dumplings with him but didn't have to since someone else did.  Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the chicken and dumplings.  Homemade dumplings are so good but hard to describe.  Not really pasta, but kind of the same idea.  Not really biscuits either.  Flour is involved, though.
I also had mashed potatoes and collard greens.  I often think that the vegetables served in southern-style restaurants are the best part.
But yesterday's top award goes to dessert.
This is, hands down, the best banana pudding I have ever eaten.  And I have eaten quite a bit of banana pudding in my life.  In the South, you cannot have a family gathering of any kind without it.  One year, no one brought it to my mom's family reunion and that is still an annual topic of conversation.  "Do you remember the year that Aunt Jeannette didn't make her banana pudding?" 
According to Mrs. H, the staff at Big Ed's had a competition to see who could make the best pudding.  I was not in on the judging unfortunately, but let me tell you, this pudding was amazing.  It was still warm, for one thing.  (My eaters like theirs cold.)  The pudding was thick and very vanilla-y.  The bananas were perfectly ripe.  They didn't over power the pudding, though.  And the meringue was heavenly.  Still crunchy, not soggy at all.  It was pure bliss.
If you find yourself in the area and want real Southern cooking, find Big Ed's and wait in line if you have to.  It's well worth the wait.
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. H.

The four boys in our car were fast asleep before we got back on the interstate.  They enjoyed a well-earned nap all the way back to Durham.

Bon appétit, Big Ed's!

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