At age 5, Mark Overbay wandered into his parents' kitchen, spotted his dad digging into a jar of peanut butter and blurted out "big spoon!" The phrase stuck. Friends and family have called Overbay's father "Big Spoon" ever since. So when Overbay launched his own label of local, handmade peanut butter, choosing a name for it came easily.
Though Overbay says peanut butter "was always a go-to" growing up, his real interest in the spread began 12 years ago, when he lived in Zimbabwe as a member of the Peace Corps. The locals harvested nuts, roasted them over an open fire and mashed them with stones in the middle of town. "It was by far the best nut butter I'd had in my whole life," he says. "The difference was that it was so fresh roasted." According to Overbay, most nut butters in the United States are made from nuts that were roasted weeks or even months before processing. Overbay plans to use only the freshest ingredients in his spreads, including North Carolina honey and peanuts shelled at Jimbo's Jumbos in Edenton.
Big Spoon doesn't yet have a website or location: Overbay uses Twitter (@bigspooners) to announce updates, and the kitchen at Durham's Ninth Street Bakery for production. By the end of the month, he hopes to have a booth each Saturday at the Carrboro Farmers' Market.
For more March market action, visit the Eno River Farmers Market on March 19 as part of Taste Carolina's (www.tastecarolina.net) new Hillsborough food tour. The market is one of seven tasting stops through town, says Taste Carolina co-founder Lesley Stracks-Mullem. Others include Saratoga Grill, The Wooden Nickel, Matthew's Chocolates, Cup A Joe, Panciuto and Hillsborough Wine Company. But the tour won't all be about eating. Expect to visit historic homes and buildings in the downtown area, too.
In addition to the March 19 event, Taste Carolina will lead tastings in Hillsborough between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 2, April 23, May 7, May 28, June 11 and June 25. To purchase advance tickets ($41) or to learn about Taste Carolina's regularly scheduled Saturday tours in downtown Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill/ Carrboro, visit www.tastecarolina.net.
Looking ahead, summer promises another new brewery for the Triangle. Mo Mercado, Mike Sulyi, and Felipe Pelaez are moving forward with plans to open BillyGoat Brewing Company (www.billygoatbrewingco.com) in Holly Springs. "We'll be close to Carolina Brewing Company," Mercado says of the location. "Hopefully we'll get to grow the beer community around there."
Sulyi, BillyGoat's brewmaster, is already immersed in the Triangle's brewing scene. He belongs to the Cary-Apex-Raleigh Brewers of Yore (CARBOY) Homebrew Club. He also has won awards, including first place at the 2010 LoneRider Brew It Forward for his American amber ale.
Mercado says to expect three regular brews on draft at BillyGoat's taproom: a pale ale, Belgian Tripel and nut brown ale. And with those, it seems that BillyGoat Brewing Company will fit into the Triangle's list of esteemed breweries. Sulyi's nut brown ale took second place at the 2010 Carolina Brewmaster's U.S. Open, and the Belgian Tripel grabbed second at the 2010 World Home Brew Festival.
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Correction (March 2, 2011): It's Saratoga, not Sarasota, Grill.