[piano intro] - Next on "North Carolina Weekend," join us from Optimist Food Hall in Charlotte as we savor some of our favorite flavors.
We'll sample biscuits in Wilson, bourbon in Lewisville and pastries in Durham.
Coming up next.
- [Announcer] Funding for "North Carolina Weekend" is provided in part by Visit NC, dedicated to highlighting our state's natural scenic beauty, unique history and diverse cultural attractions.
From the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains across the Piedmont to 300 miles of barrier island beaches, you're invited to experience all the adventure and charm our state has to offer.
[upbeat folk music] ♪ [upbeat folk music continues] ♪ [upbeat folk music continues] - Welcome to "North Carolina Weekend," everyone.
I'm Deborah Holt Noel.
And this week we are sampling some of our favorite flavors across the state from Optimist Food Hall in Charlotte.
The Queen City's first food hall, located in the turn-of-the-century textile mill between Uptown and NoDa, this sprawling development includes a food hall, restaurants, retail, and a creative office space.
Here you can sample everything from sushi to tacos to gelato and more.
We'll explore Optimist's vast food and drink selection throughout the show.
But first, let's head to Wilson where a biscuit joint has garnered a cult-like following.
If you're craving a big fluffy cat head-like biscuit at the crack of dawn, Flo's got you covered.
- [Linda] We started this business in 1990 and we've been going like this since day one.
[gentle acoustic music] We have the best French toast, big old fluffy, fluffy pancakes.
- We come a few times a month.
This week we've been here for three days in a row.
Every time we come we're getting biscuits.
- Flo's has the best cheese biscuit.
I've been eating it since I was maybe about six.
- The biscuits are huge.
That's why Flo called 'em cat head biscuits.
- They're huge.
- They're called.
They're as big as a cat's head.
- A biscuit full - It's full of it.
- [Linda] of hoop cheese that's oozing out of it, when you open it up, and it's strings outta your biscuit bowl.
- Yep, yep.
[Terri laughs] - Texture's fantastic.
You get a little bit of a crusty edge sometimes if you order one well done, but you still get that fluffy tender texture inside and that hoop cheese is just wonderful.
- The hobo, we got the hobo biscuit.
- It is scrambled eggs with cheese, crumbled sausage in it.
Tastes like home.
- You know, the line looks really long, but it's some of the most efficient service you can get.
I'm in and out here quicker than go to a Bojangles with much more down home food.
- The service here is excellent, and everything is drive-thru.
And as you're pulling around in the drive-thru, they have girls that come out and take your order.
So by the time you get to the window, you can go ahead and pick up your food.
- Hey, how you been?
No grits today, babe?
It's one egg and cheese, two pancakes with bacon and a regular size lemonade.
Thank you, babe.
Be right back.
- [Linda] Well, we only take cash, but we have a ATM.
We've never been set up for debit machine.
It just takes so long because we're so fast-paced.
- There you go.
- [Linda] Some people, they come up here and when they get to the window, they're just amazed.
- Like they're sitting there watching, like "Oh my God, look at them go."
[gentle acoustic music] - We have cheese and plain.
You can order cheese biscuits by themselves or you can take a cheese biscuit and build a buffet, can't you, too.
- Yeah, you can get just a plain cheese biscuit or you have any kind of meat on it.
We got tender loin and gravy, smothers tender loin in gravy.
We have the best fried tender loin you'll ever eat.
The bread we use is what makes it so good, and it's real tender loin.
We put our tender loin every morning.
It is fresh tender loin every day.
We got patty or linked smoke sausage.
- Mama had a lot to do with having our sausage be special.
And it is special because she told them 32 years ago, "I want this much sage in a biscuit, and I want this much meat and just a tiny bit of pepper."
Not too much so to burn their mouths up.
We just want everybody to enjoy it from a child right on up to the grandfather.
[workers chatting indistinctly] Mama had a following.
People came to see her and to eat her biscuits 'cause she had worked at three other places over the years before we opened Flo's, and I just got tired of seeing her work everywhere else.
And I asked her, I said, "Mama, you want to?
We need to open a place so you can have your own place so it can be Flo's kitchen, so it can be your kitchen."
My grandmama taught my mother how to make biscuits and how to cook, like we killed hogs.
And she learned how to make sausage from killing hogs.
Her legacy was teaching everybody and being just a good soul to everybody.
And if anybody asked for a recipe, she didn't try to hide it.
She could tell everybody.
She'd tell the world.
[workers chatting indistinctly] - [Terri] Flo's means everything.
It's my heart.
- Flo's was built on love.
Everything that we do, we do for each other, for all our customers.
They're the most important thing in the world.
I said, "We can all stand here, but if we don't have customers," they're what makes us.
They're the ones that bring us all together.
- [Together] Come on down to Flo's, wherever everybody goes.
[gentle acoustic music] - You can find Flo's Biscuits at 1015 Goldsboro Street South in Wilson, and they're open Tuesday through Saturday from 4:00 AM to noon.
To place your order, give them a call at  237-9146 or find them on Facebook.
When it comes to alcohol experience, tradition is extremely important.
For instance, champaign must come from France, scotch from Scotland, and bourbon must be made right here in the United States.
Fortunately for those who prefer the latter there is a distillery located right in the heart of North Carolina that's been producing it for more than 250 years, the Old Nick Williams Company in Lewisville.
[country rock music] - Colonel Joseph was my great great great grandfather.
He was a revolutionary war hero, and he started making liquor as soon as he had a roof over his head.
- [Narrator] That would've been 1768 on Joseph Williams property in what is now Lewisville.
- Everybody back then made liquor, and he was good at what he did, and and over time, people began to bring him other liquor that they couldn't rectify, and the stage was set.
- [Narrator] It was called the Williams Distillery then.
By the late 1800s, it was in the hands of Joseph's great-grandson, Glenn.
- My great-grandfather is Nicholas Glenn Williams.
He actually renamed the distillery Old Nick Williams for his grandfather when he inherited it.
- [Narrator] Glen didn't like the fact barrels were taxed when the whiskey went in, so he changed that too.
- You lose stuff, it evaporates, they drop it, you leak, and so you're paying taxes on stuff that you're never gonna sell.
So he fought that to the Supreme Court, and now we pay taxes after they come outta the barrel.
- [Narrator] Around the turn of the 20th century, Glenn had helped make Old Nick Williams one of the largest distilleries in the Southeast.
Their brand of whiskey, bourbon and brandy had already caught the attention of James Buchanan, and soon had Theodore Roosevelt riding to the Williams too.
Hospitals even requested more good corn and rye whiskey for medicinal use.
But in 1908, laws were enacted in North Carolina making it illegal to sell whiskey here.
- Well, they had 28,000 gallons of liquor on the property between bottles and barrels, and they busted up the barrels to dispose of them.
- So they destroyed anything that had to do with the distillery.
- [Narrator] The Old Nick Williams Company was no more.
That is until the latest generations of the Williams clan reopened the distillery over 100 years later on the very site Glen had used.
- All I'm doing it here is cooking my grains.
We actually started our first production in 2015.
We did not have it open to the public until June 17th '17.
- [Narrator] Staying true to tradition, the family is once again producing a line of distilled spirits like clear whiskey and their famous bourbon.
- The fun part about our bourbon is we're using the mash-filled that the family used pre-prohibition.
- We drew a syringe out of one of our old existing bottles and sent that off to a lab and had it tested to what they could tell best was the percentages of what was in it, and we went from there.
- [Narrator] Add to that cinnamon whiskey.
- [Ashlee] We don't add sugar or artificial flavors to it so it's a good sipper.
It's not sweet.
We have a rye whiskey.
We do several different styles of rum.
It's a Jamaican-style rum.
- Make a line of vodkas.
Our regular vodka is just a clean, crisp, smooth vodka.
We make a product called Hempahol.
It is our vodka re-distilled through hemp seed, and then we also make a vodka infused with Ghost Pepper called Marci's Tears, perfect for that Bloody Mary.
- [Narrator] And the fact they continue to produce their liquor with the same attention their ancestors did is a testament to their success.
- We determine what we're gonna make our product out of by tasting the product.
- You know, we're not pumping out 5,000-gallon mashes.
We're pumping out 500-gallon mashes.
Each one of our barrels was hand-filled, each one of 'em was hand-dump, each of 'em was hand-proofed.
You get the same amount of blood, sweat and tear in every bottle.
- [Narrator] The Old Nick Williams Company now has a full bar.
- First time I had a whiskey sour here so I keep coming back for it.
- [Narrator] They offer tastings, tours and live music, but it's the pride in their heritage the Williams want guests to remember most.
- The history's awesome.
I mean, like where else do you find like letters from a president?
- I want our customers to appreciate and see how much work and love that we put into something that's been in our family for so long.
[country rock outro music] - Old Nick Williams Farm and Distillery is at 2675 Williams Road in Lewisville, and they're open daily at 11:00 AM.
To tour their distillery, give them a call at  946-1165 or book online at oldnickwhiskey.com.
[upbeat folk music] So, Jay, for somebody who has never been here to the Optimist Food Hall, how would you describe it?
- Optimist has something for everybody, any age, any food that you crave.
We've got a lot of different options.
There are 19 different vendors here.
So it's perfect to take the whole family.
Perfect on dates.
It's perfect for any time of day.
- [Narrator] Tell me a little bit more about the history and how you preserved it.
- Yeah, so this originally was a textile mill.
It opened in 1892 and then expanded in 1895 and in 1912.
Originally, it was one of the first producers of gingham fabric, and throughout the years, it maintained a textile operation until we ultimately bought it in 2017 and began work preserving the structure.
There were no windows in any of the buildings as we bought them, everything was completely dark, and we went in and painstakingly rehabbed everything.
- [Narrator] Wow.
And I love the use of both indoor and outdoor space.
How have you created some fun ways for people to enjoy indoors and outdoors?
- It was very important to us to make sure, look, everybody loves being outside in Carolina and in the spring and fall.
So we needed to make sure that that element was here.
So we've created a central courtyard where the old mills used to be built in rectangles.
There's a beautiful courtyard that's interior but open that serves as the nexus point between each side of the mill.
- [Narrator] You must have every kind of food imaginable here.
Tell me, what are some of your family's favorites and what we're gonna find here in terms of how you found these places?
- We were pretty intentional about what we sought when we started merchandising this food hall at the very beginning.
You'll see several very popular food truck owners that we actually enticed to come, and this would be their first bricks and mortar store.
You'll see some established restaurateurs who had chefs that were working for them, and then they had one great, for example, Bao and Broth had a great steam bun at a place called Good Food on Montford.
He broke out and opened this Bao and Broth on the success of that steam bun, and it's been phenomenal.
- [Narrator] And this place has not missed out on the sweet tooth, right?
- [Jay] You will be covered.
There are several great opportunities.
Suarez Bakery, definitely.
Honeysuckle Gelato, if you have a sweet tooth for ice cream gelato, I highly recommend that.
- [Narrator] Yeah, so how has the community responded?
- [Jay] We've wanted to be Charlotte's coolest food hall.
I'd even say Charlotte's coolest destination.
I think by judging by the amount of people that come through here, all walks of life, all ages, you can argue that it definitely is.
So we've been very pleased.
And being a part of the anchor of this side of Charlotte, the north side in Optimist Park makes us even more special.
- Well, I'm excited to see more of it.
Thank you so much for showing us around.
I can't wait to eat.
- Let's do it.
- Optimist Food Hall is at 1115 North Brevard Street in Charlotte, and it's open every day.
To find out more, give them a call at  701-0040 or go online to optimisthall.com.
This next one is an inspirational story about an Algerian couple in Durham that started baking cakes at their home, and now they own their own bakery and sweet shop.
They call it La Recette Patisserie.
And their treats are as warm as their hearts.
- [Djamila] Baking to me is freedom.
I get to express how I feel.
- [Fadi] Watching Djamila being creative is honestly like watching artists doing their painting.
- Sometimes you might see colors that I use are very pastel colors, very light, and sometimes they're dark, and I try to pay attention to what's around me and bring it into baking.
I am the owner of La Recette Patisserie in Durham, North Carolina, and I am the baker.
- I'm the husband/financial accountant for La Recette Patisserie.
What we do here is French pastries with an Algerian twist.
[bright playful music] [bright playful music continues] [bright playful music continues] - So I am born and raised in Algeria.
Coming here, I couldn't really find that many options in terms of the Algerian cuisine.
We make coca.
Coca, pretty much, it's a street pizza.
It has caramelized onions and caramelized tomatoes, puff pastry, and then you just place one olive on top.
It's packed with flavors.
- And if you go to Algeria, literally, they sell it like in street food vendors, and like it's everywhere in the street, you know?
So it's like, you hungry, grab a piece of coca.
[laughs] - We also make baklawa and makrouts.
Baklawa, it's filo dough filled with almonds.
Makrouts, it's very, very traditional.
It's always found in multiple occasions, whether it's a wedding or a birthday.
We call it like almost like a loyal cookie.
It's always there.
My mom actually makes that.
It's made out of semolina, and it's stuffed with date paste, and then we deep fry it, and it's drizzled with honey.
We started the business back in 2015.
It was right after I graduated from Central.
I always wanted to do something for myself.
I started a small catering business.
It was a Mediterranean catering business.
Back then, it was called Food by Mila.
After a couple weeks, a friend of ours asked us to bake 130 cupcakes and a giant cupcake.
And, of course, I said, "Yes, I'm definitely gonna do it."
So we started baking, and in 2017, it was a year for me that I felt I was stuck.
I didn't feel like I had any deep connections with baking.
So I decided to go overseas to my hometown and study under a French pastry chef.
That was the most fulfilling, rewarding, nerve-wracking experience.
It was very intense.
Thinking about it today, how we made a decision to just book a ticket, it's amazing.
And I'm so grateful we took that step.
When I came back, I wanted to bring the Algerian roots and understand my heritage more into what I do, day to day.
And we started working with small businesses.
We have collaborated with Coco Cinnamon, the Durham Co-op, and then slowly we outgrew our tiny, tiny kitchen.
When we moved into the retail space, we've decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign.
It was- - It was a very nerve-wracking decision, for sure.
- It was, it was.
And just tell you a little bit about Kickstarter campaign.
It's all or nothing.
So even if you reach 99% of your funds by the end of the month, if you don't have it, it's a zero.
And honestly, the turnout, it was an amazing one month experience.
- It was.
- I will remember that.
- Especially the last 24 hours.
- I will remember that forever.
I am forever grateful.
- What makes our team special?
All of them.
They're all women.
And it's just so beautiful how we all came together.
[mother and baby babbling together] So Fadi is the only gentleman.
[laughs] - [laughs] Yeah.
- [Djamila] La Recette is a place for people to come together.
[inspiring music] A place to foster an atmosphere of kindness.
Good morning, how are you today?
- [Customer] Good morning, I'm good.
- [Djamila] Food is the universal language.
I can't talk a lot without talking about my faith.
I am proud to say I am a Muslim woman, and there is a reason why I have a scarf.
- [Fadi] Opening the doors to the public, we wanna show them like, that this is the true face of Islam.
- [Djamila] This is who I am.
- La Recette Patisserie is at 4823 Meadow Drive, Suite 115, in Durham.
And they're open Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
To order your amazing pastry or cake, give them a call at  888-0542 or visit them online at larecettepatisserie.com.
When you think about fresh seafood, you think of the coast, right?
Well, there's a very popular seafood joint in Asheville where they bring in fresh seafood every day, and it may change your mind about seafood in the mountains.
Let's check out Jettie Rae's Oyster house [upbeat funky music] - Jettie Rae's is, it's something I wanted to bring to the community and bring a lot of what I grew up with.
I grew up on the northern shore of Long Island, and I grew up with incredibly fresh seafood.
Most of our oysters come from the Northeast, from Boston North.
We have a beautiful partnership with a company up there called Island Creek Oysters.
We order oysters every day, and they come down to us the next day.
So that was sort of the concept for me to make sure everything was very curated and everything was the freshest possible product we could bring here to Asheville.
We have everything from probably the best fish and chips you'll ever have in your life to oysters bienville, which is a very famous dish you get out of New Orleans, which is a cooked oyster.
Executive chef Will Cisa brings his grandmother's recipe for crab cakes to the table.
- So something we've done that I'm really proud of is, you know, our crab cake recipe here is based on my my grandmother's crab cakes.
Whereas she used a lot of green bell pepper, I can't find green bell pepper a little distasteful.
We use shishito peppers as the accompaniment to the dish.
That's kinda the way that we think here.
It's not trying to be too crazy outta the box, not trying to be too cheffy about things, but really trying to demonstrate those traditions and cultures and primacy of those ingredients as best we can to the guest.
- The food is wonderful.
We love oysters.
So this is a one place that we can get superb oysters.
Normally we'll go to Charleston, but, hey, we've got it right here in the mountains.
- Right now, I have this special, it's a blood orange margarita.
I really like that it's tart but also sweet.
His cocktails fit perfectly to what you're looking for, and that's what really makes this place great.
- So the bar itself is, it's got a really nice neighborhood vibe, just kind enough outside of the downtown hustle and bustle to get a awesome mix of regulars and tourists as well, people visiting the city.
As far as our offerings, really just try to kind of do seasonal twists on like classic cocktails, stuff that complements the menu but also kind of, you know, stands on its own.
And as far as wine and beer offerings are concerned, we really just try to again complement the light faire we have with really nice like dry French minerality and like light floral options.
- All the wooden spoons here at Jettie Rae's and the bowls that are in the caviar service are made by me, a special privilege I've been given to display my work here and even have it be part of the service.
All the designs are unique, made without a template or anything like that.
So they're completely 100% unique.
We're not merely opening the oysters, and then putting them on the table.
We consider ourselves like the last standing barrier between this very long process that the oysters have been through from seedling to a finished product.
- We truly strongly believe that the Atlantic virginica oyster is the best oyster in the world.
And that's what we celebrate here at Jettie Rae's.
- My background was in fine dining when I opened my first restaurant here in Asheville 24 years ago.
And so I sort of come out of that fine-dining experience and texture when it comes to restaurants.
And so when we did Jettie Rae's, I didn't want to go white tablecloths and that level of fine dining.
But what we really wanted to do is elevate everything we did here.
We made it feel like it was sort of nautical in some ways here but not overtly nautical.
So there's this beautiful blue tones and coral tones in the room, nice warm bar, you know, but we wanted to make sure you felt like you were in a place that was welcoming you but was also a bit elevated as you came in.
- You know, our tagline is "honest food - done well."
And really that's what we try to focus on is just technique, treating good ingredients as simply as we can and with as much respect as we can.
- You know, Asheville's been very good to me.
I've been a very blessed and lucky man living here and being part of the community.
I couldn't have done what I'm doing now in my life if I wasn't in Asheville.
It lends itself to those that want to be entrepreneurs and really push themselves and any profession that you do in this town and really try to create perfection and bring something special to people in this town.
So I'm very blessed and lucky for that.
- Jettie Rae's Oyster House is at 143 Charlotte Street in Asheville, and they're open Tuesday through Sunday, from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM.
For more information, give them a call at  505-4499 or check them out online at jettieraes.com.
Hey, everyone, that's it for tonight's show.
We definitely savored some great flavors out here at Optimist Food Hall in Charlotte.
Be sure to stop by whenever you're in the area.
And if you've missed anything in today's show, remember you can always watch us again online at pbsnc.org.
Have a great North Carolina weekend, everyone.
[upbeat folk music] ♪ - [Announcer] Funding for "North Carolina Weekend" is provided in part by Visit NC, dedicated to highlighting our state's natural scenic beauty, unique history and diverse cultural attractions.
From the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains across the Piedmont to 300 miles of barrier island beaches, you're invited to experience all the adventure and charm our state has to offer.