We were tickled this year to meet Vivian Howard and sign on as a sponsor of “A Chef’s Life,” the oh-so-charming PBS documentary series about Vivian’s experience running a fine dining restaurant in her small North Carolina hometown.
Here at Barkley’s Mill, we are huge fans of Vivian and the way she honors the culture and foodways of eastern North Carolina and the South at her Kinston restaurant, Chef, and the Farmer, on her TV series, in her new cookbook, “Deep Run Roots” – pretty much in everything she does.
Her commitment to telling the stories of the South’s small farms and food producers, and the important work they do, resonates especially with us, as that’s a driving force behind our own philosophy at Barkley’s Mill.
It was about this time last year that Vivian got her first taste of our stone ground heirloom grits. We’d sent her a bag of Barkley’s Mill Stoned Happy Grits, eager to see what she thought of them. Little did we know, she’d be serving them to her extended family as part of their Christmas breakfast.
Here’s what she had to say:
"Usually on Christmas morning we eat sausage biscuits, and that’s it. But last year on a whim I decided to cook this bag of grits I had gotten in the mail. I didn’t pay any attention to the name brand or the story at the time and threw the cloth bag in the trash after I emptied the grits into my pot to cook. As we were opening presents and eating breakfast, my sisters and their kids kept commenting on how creamy the grits were, and my Dad went back for seconds and thirds. Finally, I decided I needed to dig that cloth bag out of the trash and find out where those grits came from. On a morning when the star is usually fat sausage biscuits, Barkley’s Mill creamy grits stole the show."
We’re proud to say that Vivian thought so highly of our stone ground grits that she now serves them regularly in her restaurant.
This summer, she took our grits to the kitchens of Saveur magazine where she cooked them for editors, writers, and other food glitterati. And this fall, she featured them in dishes she served to fans at her “Deep Run Roots” book tour events across the Southeast.
We couldn’t be more excited and honored to be working with Vivian and “A Chef’s Life.” Looking forward to seeing what she and her crew have cooking in 2017.
One of Vivian’s signature dishes is Baked Pimento Cheese Grits, a bubbly concoction of Barkley’s Mill Stone Ground Heirloom Grits and the beloved Southern cheese spread. Topped with an endless option of seasonal salsas, cornbread chips, or pork rinds, it’s a meal all on its own.
You’ll find a Pimento Cheese Grits with Salsa and Chips recipe in Vivian’s new cookbook, “Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South.” Or, you could try a similar recipe from our collection: Barkley’s Mill Pimento Cheese Grits Soufflé. It would be an impressive addition to your table this season.
And here’s another dish from Vivian with stone ground grits as the starring ingredient. We think this full-flavored combination of grits, sausage, and mushroom ragout would make a perfect choice for a brunch buffet, or, as Vivian suggests, as a stellar side dish to accompany dinner.
To bring a taste of Barkley’s Mill Stone Ground Heirloom Grits to your table, please visit our online store.