Nothing screams Southern cuisine more than biscuits and corn bread. These ubiquitous comfort foods show up on tables throughout the South. Add yeast rolls and you get the trinity of Southern breads. Yeast rolls, typically found at dinner, have become uncommon in restaurants. Nowadays, artisan breads and flatbreads dot the tables of the urbane eateries. Home cooks have resorted to buying Sister Schubert rolls for a taste of the old Southern dinner table. But there are still places that make biscuits and cornbread in-house.
The best part of a Southern breakfast is those heavenly, float-off-the-plate, click-my-heels-I'm-with-Auntie-Em mouthfuls of memories that a high rise Southern biscuit delivers. My thoughts always turn to the image of a strong-handed woman rolling out biscuit dough, guiding my small hands to cut rounds, placing them gingerly on baking sheets and finally retrieving golden and flour-mottled biscuits from a hot oven. I used to go to the Coffee Cup for my biscuit fix. Ms. Crowder's fluffy biscuits were some of the best I had ever eaten. But she's gone now and times have changed at the Cup. So have the biscuits. Nowadays, owner Gardine Wilson and Anthony McCarver serve up hot biscuits, made in house, which are good, but they are not high rise.
The Coffee Cup, 914 S. Clarkson St., 704-375-8855.
At the Stumptown Diner in Matthews, they still serve those flavorfully dense yet texturally light fluffy biscuits. Drizzle these with some local honey and you can't beat that for a breakfast. During breakfast, biscuits typically come with a dish. Country ham biscuits ($4.50 for 2) are also available.
115 West John St., 704-708-5533.
When the Association of Food Journalists was in town a few weeks ago, a group from the Northwest wanted to know where to find Angel biscuits. It seemed some had ancestors from Virginia and Angel biscuit recipes had been passed down through their families. Fortunately for them, these biscuits were baked fresh daily right across the street from their conference at Harper's Blue Ribbon Diner. Harper's Angel biscuits, made from an older than dirt, Morganton, N.C. Sasser family recipe, are a flat cut biscuit resembling Columbian arepas, but tasting Southern.
Harper's Blue Ribbon Diner, 129 West Trade St., 704-371-8774.
Corn bread is quite the other kind of bread. While biscuits are light and flaky, southern cornbread has texture and denseness. Most Southerners prefer salty to sweet, leaving the sweetness to come from the cornmeal rather than sugar or molasses. This is different from many of the packages of cornmeal found on the grocery shelves, some of which contain wheat flour. You can always count on finding some hot, fresh from the oven corn bread at Simmons Fourth Ward. The cornbread here has a soft and moist center with a crusty outside and tastes like summer corn. At times cornbread can be too dry, but not here.
Simmons Fourth Ward Restaurant, 516 N. Graham St., 704--334-6640.