Greetings from Carrboro,
It was so damn frustrating. I’d sit on the roof of my mom’s white Dodge station wagon, impatiently watching the boats move slowly along the Intracoastal Waterway. We were in a line of parked cars waiting for the bridge to open across to Ocean Isle, our shimmering island destination on the other side. It always felt like an eternity; the long drive from Charlotte and then the awful waiting to cross the bridge. Summer’s promise felt so close. I could smell it in the salt air and hear it in the cry of seagulls overhead. Some of the similarly marooned families set up beach chairs on the side of the road, listening to the radio. Others threw a football or frisbee to pass the time together. I stared at the bridge looking for any sign of hope, the sun high above.
There’s no doubt that my mother knew what she was doing. Once we did cross the accursed bridge and pulled up to the house, she’d have us fully unload the car, unpack all of our bags – including the groceries, and make the beds with the fresh sheets brought from home. Then, and only then, she’d let us walk – no running! – across the boardwalk to the beach. And to bliss. In those moments, there’s no doubt that anticipation has its unique rewards.
Though probably not with the frenetic zeal of childhood, I have been oh-so looking forward to the return of the exuberant joys of summer this year. It’s true that the calendar continued to march through each of it’s 365 days over the past 12 months. Yet I still felt like I was locked on the outside of time’s familiar wheel – stuck in the Groundhog Day that was our collective pandemic experience.
But that was soooo 2020. Welcome to 2021. And to summer. And, yes, for all of us at the restaurant, to the return of the almost-famous Acme Tomato Plate. Ready and waiting for you, starting this week. You remember that one, right? Local heirloom tomatoes, deviled eggs, fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, and Acme squash pickles? If summer has a gateway drug, this is it. It’s southern summer, all on one plate – and, thank god, no longer in a takeout box. Nothing will put 2020 in the rearview quite like having a tomato plate on our patio. Because our farmers haven’t lost their touch; delicious is still very, very delicious.
I know that it’s been a minute. For all of us. To slow down and take a deep breath and let the world wash over us. But summer is really here; the bridge is finally open. And, oh yes, it’s worth the wait. As we like to say in the kitchen, anticipation is always the best sauce.
And if you need serious proof that summer has once again arrived in Carrboro, the 20th Annual Acme Tomato Festival is also coming to a restaurant near you. Yes, you read that right – it’s been two whole decades of the ultimate celebration of summer in the South. Hard to believe. July 15th – July 18th: four days to pay homage to our great local farmers and their even better tomatoes. Think of it as a culinary swan dive/belly flop into all things tomato. We’ll go through nearly 1,000 pounds that week. Sliced and diced, fried and pie’d, sauced and tossed. So, yeah, that sound you hear? It’s summer calling your name.
Well, that’s all the news from Carrboro. The staff at Acme look forward to serving you soon.
The Staff at Acme
Click here to reserve your table for Acme’s 20th Annual Tomato Festival (July 15-18).