Food & Beverage

On ‘every’ street corner Biscuits Like Mama Made

By Gail Greco

If you’ve never used a mason jar as a drinking glass

Or to eat milk and bread from

Or to catch fireflies in

Or to cut homemade biscuits with

You ain’t country

                 – from You Ain’t Country by Patricia Neely-Dorsey, 2012

A biscuit I ate recently was so giddy-up good—crisp, tender, cushy—that it was poetic, but since it wasn’t cut with a Mason jar, tsk-tsk, scolds thispoem, I’m zero-for-four. I ‘ain’t country.’ How ‘bout you?

Growing up in a city, I did catch fireflies (score one) but in any old jar (point lost), unaware of John L. Mason’s (1858 patented) tin-lidded glass canning jars. Summer’s almost here when lightning bugs twinkle their flat bottoms in courtship; I’ll watch, but won’t touch (score two). So, where do I stand?

Points and poetry aside, on ‘every’ street corner. Living now in a so-called “High”country, thescore’s leveled; I am country! While punching out biscuits via the glass rim  of a preserving jar is a throwback to old-timey resourcefulness, or a saving grace when it’s what’s handy—no matter how you cut it—nothing holds a firefly’s candle to our abundant mountain-high biscuits!

“It’s a biscuit revolution,” cheers Zach Anderson of Betty’s Biscuits, the newest biscuiteria opening in western North Carolina and statewide.

The Biscuiterias

American biscuits are not the flat, dry crackers the British call biscuits. “Scones are their biscuits,” clarifies tea-time master Anne Whitton-Bolyea, who serves them with her in-house blended teas at Appalachian Apothekary and Tea Room (Foscoe).

Nation’s Restaurant News in 2016 reported biscuits as the fastest-growing menu item.  Ever see the drive-thru lines wrapping the corner of Winklers Creek Road and 321 in Boone on weekends for Bojangles’ Biscuit Meals? Same indoors at Williams Deli and Bakery (Banner Elk) “for city visitors wanting to taste the country. Our biscuits do it!” booms Josh Williams.

Fresh Biscuits, a sign posted at Hellbender’s (Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock), beckons passersby with a biscuit-dedicated menu, making the restaurant/inn a first to offer Biscuits (breakfast) as its own serving time, like “Lunch” or “Dinner.”

With so many dedicated biscuit eateries, let’s update their name. I’m calling them biscuiterias (Anderson and others approved).Vicious Biscuit (corner of Blowing Rock Road /Hwy 321 and Highland Drive) is one, opened in 2023. The South Carolina family business chose Boone as its sixth location. “Biscuits are entertainment,” Vicious espouses, with its amusing sandwiches: Animal Farm, Flame Thrower, Silence of the Hams.

Loaded Biscuits food truck has its own long lines straddling the corner of Watauga County Farmers’ Market at Horn in the West Drive every Saturday, with baked-in cheeses, hence loaded biscuits, that better redefines all biscuit sandwiches. Owner Bryan Kossol’s on to something; copyright the name? Last year he added Everybody’s Bruncheon Club (Howard Street, Boone) to his biscuit domain with chicken-in-biscuit combos including: the Big Mother Clucker (eggs, sausage, cheese); The Family Van (onion-jam and cheese); and Cowboy Killer (candied bacon, jalapenos, pimento cheese)!

Wheels Up! Betty’s Makes Landfall on King

Riding round town in their food truck, vending scratch-made biscuits from a window on wheels, demand for Betty’s Biscuits quickly outpaced space. Owner Tina Houston has transitioned Betty’s—named after her grandmother—into a cozy neighborhood cafe located near the life-sized bronze of Doc Watson flat-picking his guitar on the corner of King and Depot Streets, Boone. Houston (also owner of Reid’s Cafe & Catering and The Beacon) painstakingly renovated the historic motor garage abutting Mast General Store.

Breakfast and lunch “with a buzz” categorizes the new menu with local ingredients right down to the pottery tableware. Coffee drinks, breakfast cocktails—even sandwiches—may get you humming! The Yo Nanna, a biscuit French toast doused in banana vanilla sorghum and hazelnut chocolate sauce, will awaken you, provided the Pecky biscuit with yard-egg, cheese, and pork bellydoesn’t already have you at first oink! Anderson expects his fave, the sausage/strawberry preserves Slam Jam, to be a slam-dunk again, as it was on the food truck where he worked while studying at App State, graduating in 2018. But, his degree in insurance risk management didn’t get a rise out of him as do his flaky biscuits, so he’s at Betty’s full-swing.

“So, um, that means you’re a baker now?”

 “Professional biscuit chef,” corrects Anderson.

“Ah,” I relay, “a biscuiteer!” And he smiles.

 We eat, pray, love our way through them …

“Biscuits make the world a better place,” preaches Anderson. They don’t have evil intentions.” Maybe heavenly ones? Some bakers mindfully set intentions when readying biscuits. Meditating? Praying for a yummy outcome? Or, with added leavening agents, feathering dough into tulle as if the wings of so-called Angel Biscuits?   

Some claim biscuits are art; others science. But biscuits are stronger than either—a cornerstoneof Southern cuisine, making us wanna BOS (burst out singing). Legendary jazz vocalist Nina Simone did exactly that, cutting biscuits with her mother, “using an empty jam jar, singing all the while,” reads her 1992 autobiography, and Missing the hot biscuits…she croons lyrically in I’m Going Back Home, singing about the three-room house in Tryon, NC, where she grew up with her parents and seven siblings.

Amy Galloway, professor of eating behaviors at App State’s Psychology Department studies how some foods (biscuits included) do remind us of mama or grandma’s home kitchen, and so satisfy a longing while promoting well-being. “Biscuits have peoples’ hearts. Fluffy little pillows of happiness, leaving you speechless but singing,” chimes Carol Sposato, manager at Fred’s General Mercantile. Breaded pork biscuits with house-made gravy were just introduced at the general store’s Backside Deli “made on our corner of the world,” she boasts, of their 5,506-foot location in Beech Mountain.

Loftiness is a homemade biscuit hallmark, achieved with melting butter in steamy air pockets. At home, Bryan Kossol may use a jar rim, “or a pint glass,” he says, “and biscuits will be totally tasty, but not as pouffy as with a metal cutter’s straight edges.” Still, Mason jars and biscuits are symbiotic, so to the poem’s ‘country’ pondering, a fun thought: use canning-jar shaped cookie cutters to make biscuits!

Moving to the High Country brought me under the spell of homemade-style biscuits again, beginning with Ross Aglialoro’s (eightpointfive) chive-pimentos—and this spring, he’s making them with basil and Buttercup cheese from English Farmstead Cheese (Marion).

“Our ancestors gave us the mighty biscuit, but family recipe or not, as long as pride’s baked in, it’s a beautiful thing,” beams Kossol. He and his fellow millennial biscuiteers are the corner of the local biscuit market; their talents and passions edging biscuits “into the artisanal-breads category,” prophesizes Aglialoro. He’s perfecting focaccia, a reassurance that while we can never bite off more biscuits than we can chew, the next bread tradition might be right around the corner!

Other local, homey spots serving biscuits: Melanie’s (tree-shaded picnic tables, corner of King and Depot Streets); Dan’l Boone Inn (historic home, corner of Hardin and King. Streets).

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From the CML Kitchen

By Meagan Goheen

Beef Tenderloin with a mushroom sauce and horseradish cream sauce


4 to 4 ½ lbs of trimmed beef tenderloin

1 TBSP kosher salt

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 TBSP olive oil

Garlic herb butter

6 TBSP butter

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

Mushroom sauce

1 TBSP unsalted butter

1 TBSP olive oil

1 large shallot thinly sliced

8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

½ tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ cup dry red wine

1 1/2 cups beef broth

Horseradish cream sauce

1 cup sour cream

¼ cup prepared horseradish

1 ½ TBSP dijon mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp sherry vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Remove the beef tenderloin from the fridge, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Let it come to room temperature prior to cooking, about 1 ½ hours.
  2. To cook the beef evenly, cut into two pieces and use butcher’s twine to tie each tenderloin, making the shape as uniform as possible on the ends. 
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for garlic herb butter, set aside.
  5. In another bowl, mix together horseradish cream sauce, cover and chill until ready to serve. 
  6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  7. Heat a large cast iron skillet to high heat; add 2 TBSP olive oil and sear tenderloin on each side until browned, 2-3 minutes per side.
  8. Once seared, slather on the garlic herb butter and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  9. To ensure correct temperature, use a meat thermometer:

Rare – 115°F-120°F

Medium Rare – 120°F-125°F

Medium – 130°F-135°F

  • Remove tenderloin and transfer to a cutting board. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.
  • In the same skillet prepare your mushroom sauce. Over medium-high heat, add butter and oil.
  • Add sliced mushrooms and shallots and sauté until browned, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add minced garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Sauté until fragrant and transfer to a separate bowl.
  • Add ½ cup of wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Cook until 2 TBSP of wine remain, about 2 minutes. 
  • Add beef broth and boil until reduced by half, 5-7 minutes.*
  • Add mushrooms back to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

*Optional – remove sauce from heat and finish with 1/4 cup of cream or 2 TBSP of butter for a creamier sauce.

Slice beef, serve with mushroom and horseradish sauces.

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