25 June 2006

Day Tripping: Pittsboro and S&T's Soda Shoppe

I am proud to say I live in this great state of North Carolina. Coming from a prolonged existence in the Midwest (which was a very good base as a child and teen, but left me seriously lacking for more diversity and opportunity), the Cardinal State has been a wonderful home to me, almost a retreat. I've been here more than a decade now, and luckily have been able to somehow to survive financially in one of the wealthier areas of the state, situated happily enough to the beach, the mountains, and cities both large and small. Times are much more stable for me now (praise Lord), but not a winter day goes by that I don't thank the heavens that NC doesn't get too cold in December. I have decided to make NC my base until I am able to make the move to my beloved Australia (a goal I once had as a child as we all do to run off somewhere beautiful, but it became fully developed a few years ago), and it's only because I love Oz so...and not because Carolina has lost her luster (we frequently drop the 'North' off our phrasings here, unless you are close to the South Carolina border or are a transplanted Yankee).

That said, and given my heavy workloads during the week in jobs past and present, my time actually exploring this fine area is sadly lacking. Truthfully, it's been confined to whatever I can do on the extended holidays or the weekend. I had a goal when I first moved here to eat at all the BBQ places in the state; I fully realize the folly of that (even if I started now, it would take years at 3 meals a day), but it's one of those goals you develop when you come here...you just want to go out and meet the locals.

My past weekend's excursion took me to the fine little county seat of Chatham County, Pittsboro. Pittsboro is known for its antique and resale shops, town square with roundabout around the colonial courthouse, about equal distance between Chapel Hill and Sanford. In days recent, it has become a site of enormous growth, as new homes, shopping developments and a proposed (and much-feared) Wal-Mart is possibly coming into the 15-501 highway corridor. It is also known as the neighbour to the much-heralded Fearrington Village, a highly prized residential area and home of the 5 star Fearrington House (inn & restuarant). Not bad for a town that's mostly comprised (still) of farmland and pastures on all sides and where traffic jams are still unknown.

While I have only indulged at the grandeur (and expense) of the Fearrington House Restaurant once or twice, occasionally I'll get a wild hair and make the trek down to Pittsboro and go to my favourite ice cream parlour: S&T's Soda Shoppe, right in downtown. To say this place is packed year round may be an understatement, to say it's worth any reasonable length of drive (as in my case) in the summer time is worthy of an 'amen'. It is still outfitted like its original days as a pharmacy, but with 30+ flavours of some of the best homemade ice cream available. The staff are good to excellent, although frequently always on the rush as some small child is tugging along for second helpings. The snacks and lunches are good, and all are served in honest-to-goodness silverware and dishes. On good days, some tables are even available for outside dining to help with the crowd control, as I frequently use if given the option. While dogs are not allowed on the inside, the staff, owners, and other patrons are very dog friendly. Great place to go have a nice lunch and read a book, or bring the pooch and engage in some people watching near the town square. It's the kind of place few of us ever went to as kids, and is also one of those places we should all be fighting for (and frequenting) to make sure it stays around for the next generation.

Last July, Our State magazine profiled this little happy place in great detail in an article called "Frosty Flavors". And, no, the comments written still do not give S&T's proper justice. (Am trying to find an online link, as my copy is a little worn from wear to do a proper scan. If I'm still unsuccessful in a few days, I'll attempt the scan and place it here as an edited item.)

The News & Observer even wrote them a glowing review.

Address and Phone: 85 Hillsboro St, Pittsboro, NC 27312, (919) 545-
0007. They do take call-ahead orders and do also host birthday parties and the like...and have an old time Wurlitzer jukebox for musical entertainment

Must haves: the banana split (although you might need to scale it down if only one person...it's huge), and the fresh-made sandwiches.

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