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Inspired Food: Piedmont Focuses on Sustainability and Powerful Flavor

By Kelly Church

At Piedmont in Durham, NC, food is more than just a means to nourishment. The restaurant's slogan is "inspired food-" which well describes its view on plate creation. Built in a 1930s Nash car dealership, Piedmont strives to serve fine, farm-to-table food in an airy, loft-like atmosphere.

"Local produce is at the core of what we do," says General Manager Crawford Leavoy. "Whether it is purslane from George O'Neil at Lil' Farm or Queen Anne's Lace (carrot flower) from Richard Holcomb at Coon Rock Farm, our menu is centered around the produce that we are getting from the farms in the Piedmont region of North Carolina."

With multiple local farms to choose from and a direct relationship with Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough, Leavoy says that maintaining the farm-to-table menu isn't difficult: "Piedmont is able to not only access the best sustainable-raised produce in the area, but also pasture-raised pork and chicken."

The restaurant's style is inspired by seasonality of ingredients in a "refined Southern" atmosphere. However, Leavoy says that the staff at Piedmont pulls inspiration from everywhere in order compliment their fresh ingredients the best way possible. Their dishes offer "deep layers of flavor and vibrant colors" and are constantly changing. During the this warmer time of year, Leavoy says Piedmont's most popular dishes include their Goat Lady Dairy custard with pistachio, tomato, red Russian kale, and smoked mushrooms; a crudo made with fresh fish, pickled ramps, radish, and rice chips; and dessert of blackberries, vanilla sponge cake, lemon balm, and blackberry-buttermilk ice cream.

"We keep our menu ever-changing because of this dependency on the farm and fresh ingredients," Leavoy says. "We devote a significant amount of time to making sure that we are sourcing some of the best produce and proteins that we can find; it's a paramount portion of what we think creates the guests' experience."

The cocktail and drink menu is given just as much attention to detail. The blackberries found on the dessert menu are also incorporated into many cocktails as a "shrub." Leavoy explains, "It is a vinegar, fruit and herb elixir that we are pairing with lime and reposado tequila (a sort of intense summer margarita) or just simply putting over ice with club soda (the most refreshing of summer mocktails)."

The cocktail list is inspired by the pre-prohibition area and the handcrafted drinks change seasonally. Additionally, Piedmont features a vast wine list of over 350 wines, focusing on Champagne, Pinot Noir and Rhone Varietals. Leavoy manages and maintains the wine menu himself.

At Piedmont, not only are the food and drinks inspired, but the service is as well. Leavoy says, "Our entire staff is committed to understanding that the use of such beautiful ingredients is only truly accessed when the entire restaurant dining experience is on point." Piedmont is located at 442 Foster Street in Durham - step inside and experience it for yourself.

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