Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Tar Heel 25: And how about the Sunnyside Oyster Bar?

The Observer's Kathy Purvis and the News & Observer's Andrea Weigl had a wonderful piece in today's newspapers about "The Tar Heel 25 -- From the mountains to the sea, the tastes that define the state." It was both fun to read and illuminating, too -- which is what readers have come to expect from Purvis and Weigl. Their list includes stand-bys such as barbecue (No. 4 on the list) and banana puddin' (No. 1 on the list) and the truly unusual -- the fried herring at the Cypress Grill in Jamesville, open only a few months of the year when the herring run in the Roanoke River. Last time we ate there, I had mine "cremated." You can also order your herring "total wreck" and other stages of doneness. The key is to get it done enough to where those bones don't matter anymore.

The thing everyone likes about these lists is it makes you think of other candidates for the list, or a longer list. Mine would include the Sunnyside Oyster Bar in Williamston, which features an old-timey step-down room with a U-shaped bar and stools where the guys who shuck oysters can keep them coming all night. The Sunnyside is an Eastern N.C. institution not to be missed by those in search of serious shellfish.

I'd also put Paul's Place Famus Hotdogs in Castle Hayne on my list. It's worth a stop there on the way to Wrightsville Beach just for the little rolls and the terrific relish that Paul's serves its dogs in. Last time I was in there he had on the wall pictures of two local football heroes who made it bigtime in the NFL: Sonny Jurgensen and Roman Gabriel. Both were quarterbacks who played their high school ball down the road at New Hanover High.

And I suppose I ought to mention the pink slaw at the A. & M. Grill in Mebane. It's an acquired taste, or sight, I guess, but it's one of those unusual foods that mark the tastes of North Carolina: It's memorable. So is the A.& M.: It open shortly after World War II and remains a venerable part of the landscape in the central Piedmont.

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