Hunt & Gather

Bringing Saxy Back

Getting fresh in Saxapahaw

By Amy and Peter Freeman

sunny brisk North Carolina afternoon does wonders to get the juices flowing and what better way to get fresh than with a short jaunt to Saxapahaw? A short and scenic drive kicked off our frisky excursion to the reawakened historic cotton mill community in Alamance County overlooking the Haw River. Our first taste of fresh: a welcoming hot pick-me-up at the Cup 22 coffee] shop. The silky concoction was brewed with hand-roasted beans from Joe Van Gogh, a specialty coffee roaster in Hillsborough, and in true hipster fashion, topped off with latte art using Homeland Dairy cream from Julian, just down the road.

With a little kick in our step, we set out for short hike along the Haw River Trail and the Saxapahaw Island Park, a newly opened green space that includes a playground boasting a gargantuan wooden sculpted fish slide and river access nearby.

This frisky mill town is full of surprises, many of them in the Saxapahaw General Store. Its shelves are filled with local delights — mugs fashioned at HAAND porcelain production studio, T-shirts trumpeting the store’s street cred as “your local five-star Gas Station,” gift baskets brimming with energy bars, soy candles and — ranking 10 on the frisk-o-meter — Videri chocolate bars, and then some.

Carnivores — or perhaps we should say, “locavores” — can sink their teeth into selections from the village’s Left Bank Butchery, Taking the farm-to-table concept to a new level, the butchery wastes nothing in carving and curing meats, many sourced from Cane Creek Farms. Think mouth-watering free-range, hormone-free pork, beef and poultry. . . along with useful knickknacks (koozies, or rosemary sage soap, anyone?) and great advice.

The sexy spot next door, The Eddy Pub, takes community-sourced seriously. A meticulously crafted charcuterie and cheese plate pairs artisanal cheeses and cured meats from the village butchery and local creameries within a moment’s drive. A luscious blueberry shrub, a vinegar-based soft drink, filled us with sufficient vim before our next stop.

A rosy sunset over the river drew us to the deck of Haw River Farmhouse Ales where a sample flight including the Saxy Machismo (Belgium styled quadrupel), Bodhi Loves Chachi (barrel-aged sour blond), and a Pound of Flesh (oak-aged golden sour) provided a lasting memory of our loving day together.

With an air of content, we moseyed hand-in-hand toward our homebound carriage, while other moonstruck folks followed the strains of the siren songs emanating from the Haw River Ballroom, an eclectic three-level music venue housed in the original Dye House. Exchanging knowing smiles, we resisted the temptation to extend our afternoon delight to an evening frolic. And if we hadn’t, we’d keep mum about it, because after all: What happens in Saxapahaw stays in Saxapahaw.

Amy and Peter Freeman include among their pastimes, mindless wandering.  Amy, a photographer and Peter, an architect, are perpetually in search of new gigs, fresh digs and fun swigs.

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