By Deanna Coleman
As a Fayetteville native, I never would have imagined that, on a Thursday night at a small barbecue restaurant, I would be sampling fine cuisine paired with Italian wine.
Well, it happened, y’all, AND IT WAS SO GOOD!
First of all, I want to be honest about my bias towards Fowler’s from the start. I do not know the restaurant’s entire story, but here is what I do know- it started as the “Blind Pig” food truck and eventually opened a brick and mortar at 723 W. Rowan Street, a rather small venue where they serve up the best smoked meats I’ve ever eaten. The owners are super welcoming and friendly, they work hard and they support the community and other nearby small business owners. I have been a fan since day one.
I honestly had no idea what I was getting into when I entered one of my favorite lunch spots to participate in a food and wine tasting.
The food was all by Fowler’s, of course, and the wine was from Bacco Selections, an Italian wine importer, presented by Paolo Pellizzari. https://www.baccoselections.com/
First up- “Local Charcuterie and House Pickles.” I am absolutely a meat and cheese fanatic- I’ve been eating charcuterie boards since before I knew how to pronounce them. This did not disappoint. My favorite cheese was extremely creamy and had apricots in it. There was pickled squash, okra and asparagus. I am a huge fan of most things pickled (glad there weren’t eggs or pig’s feet) and even got my company to taste all the veggies. The meat, sopressata and pepperoni, was from Heritage Farms in Goldsboro, NC. It was paired with a 2013 Peri Rose. Paolo explained the region in Italy from which the wine was imported. Note: I do not remember all of the wine descriptions. As you will see from my pictures, I’m a foodie, not a wine-y…wine-o? You get the point.
Next came “Pan Seared Black Drum and Tuscan Beans.” I believe that the charred red pepper coulis was my favorite part of this dish. The sauce married the Drum and Tuscan beans beautifully. Paired with a 2018 Collestefano Verdicchio di Matelica, the dish was light and satisfying. Confession- I referred to the wine as Metallica, because I could not pronounce it, but it was one of my favorites from the evening.
Third course was an Apple and Fennel Salad with Heritage Farms Pork Belly. WINNER WINNER! This was absolutely my favorite. The seasoning on the pork belly was perfect and paired amazingly with the licorice taste from the fennel, the tart of granny smith apple and the sweetness of the honey. I used the carrot puree as more of a dip. It was all so rich and flavorful. The wine was a 2018 Il Chiosso Ficorosa. I do not remember how this wine tasted, as I was too busy drooling over the pork belly.
Then came the steak. Revier farm Tagliata Di Manzo. I’m a fan of NY Strip steak. You have the choice to eat the fat, which is generally concentrated on the side, or cut it away and only eat the lean parts. This particular NY Strip actually has marbling at the bottom as well. In the food world, fat is flavor, and this was a great cut of beef. It was served with arugula (a peppery lettuce) and shaved Parmesan. I think I would have appreciated a little bolder seasoning on the steak, but they truly let the meat shine on its own. This dish was paired with a 2014 Marramiero d’Abruzzo Riserva. MY FAVORITE WINE OF THE NIGHT. While I do not have the same amount of culture and experience as Paolo, I can recognize a good wine when I taste it. This was a red, dry wine. I do not know what to compare it to, but I did buy a bottle, and at $36, I will likely not be offering to share!
The final course- Chocolate Budino, Cream and Lavender Ice Shard. I am not a dessert eater, so I did not eat much of this. I learned that budino is essentially a thick pudding. This particular one was made with bittersweet dark chocolate, topped with Fresh Cream and finished with a lavender ice shard. I took a couple of bites so that I could say I participated and even had a sip of the 2017 Braida Brachetto d’Acqui wine. The wine was super sweet. The dessert fans at my table lauded this course and gladly finished my portion.
Overall, this was a WONDERFUL evening full of great food and amazing wine. I am told that Fowler’s plans to make this a monthly event and I plan on showing up as often as possible!
If you are searching for a great lunch spot, give Fowler’s a shot. They generally share their daily specials on Instagram and Facebook- follow them for drool-worthy Southern gourmet.