Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Honeysuckle & Grits

Posted June 4, 2007

Remember the first time you smelled honeysuckle as a child? Remember the first time you tasted the sweet nectar?

Well, I felt like a kid all over again Saturday night at Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill. For years I had heard about chef Bill Smith's signature dish of honeysuckle sorbet. Saturday night I finally tasted it and it was absolutely awesome: sweet but light and refreshing with just a hint of cinnamon and lemon.

This is strictly a seasonal recipe. Once the honeysuckle blossoms are gone the sorbet is removed from the menu. You might still have a couple of days to enjoy this dessert but call ahead.

My entree was shrimp and grits. No one does it better and more consistently than Crook's Corner. I used to think Clawson's in Beaufort was as good but the last time I was there I thought the shrimp and grits were a bit bland. Carolina's Restaurant on Exchange Street in Charleston also has a highly touted recipe but my last trip left me slightly dissatisfied.

How about you? What are your honeysuckle memories and where do you go for shrimp and grits?

Tomorrow: pimento cheese beignets.


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  • vyelverton Jun 5, 2007

    My favorite honeysuckle memory is of my Grandaddy's garden. There were honeysuckle vines all over the trees and undergrowth in the woods at the far end of the garden. They smelled soooooo sweet. The honeysuckle made that memory sweet, but the time I spent in the garden with Grandaddy makes the memory much sweeter.

  • mandyv Jun 4, 2007

    As a little girl visiting my cousins in Asheville we used to always pick the honeysuckle blossoms - so sweet! I would love to try that sorbet.

    The best shrimp and grits I have ever had were in Charleston, SC at 82 Queen, located downtown at 82 Queen Street. They have absolutely THE best She Crab Soup.

  • creid Jun 4, 2007

    I have completely given up on finding shrimp & grits locally. I don't enjoy cooking, but this is my favorite dish, so I resort to make my own, with this Southern Living recipe:


    1 C. quick grits
    4 T. butter or margarine
    ¾ C. grated sharp cheddar
    ½ C. grated parmesan
    1 t. cayenne pepper
    1 T. hot sauce Salt to taste

    Prepare grits acc. to pkg. (can microwave). As grits are finishing, stir in butter, cheeses, pepper and hot sauce. Add salt to taste. Keep warm.

    Shrimp: 3 T. olive oil 1 small onion, diced 1.5 lbs. shrimp, peeled 3 cloves minced garlic 1 C. sliced white mushrooms 3 T. white wine 2 T. lemon juice Crushed pepper, if desired

    Saute onion and crushed red pepper in olive oil until onion is transparent. Toss in shrimp. Stir until shrimp begin to turn pink. Stir in garlic, making sure not to brown the garlic. Add sliced mushrooms and toss to coat with oil in skillet. Add wine and lemon juice and stir until well coated (about 1 min.)

    Pour over che

  • computer trainer Jun 4, 2007

    He shared that sorbet recipes a few years ago and it is FABULOUS!!! People thought that I was crazy, but I can tell you, there is NOTHING like it. When you eat it, you can feel the essence of the honeysuckle!!

  • raleighner Jun 4, 2007


    Crook's Corner has their own label of grits. You can purchase a bag of the grits at A Southern Season in Chapel Hill. You can purchase Crook's Coffee at A Southern Season as well. Yummm...

  • bornbredtarheel Jun 4, 2007

    Ahhh...Crook's Corner's honeysuckle sorbet...such a fine treat! I haven't had it in a while and love it...

  • innocent bystander Jun 4, 2007

    Squeek, ya need to go to charleston and try some good shrimp n grits so you know how it's supposed to look and taste before making it yourself. Now ya have a good excuse to go there for a weekend! The Hominy Grill, Magnolias and the charleston crab house all have great versions. I haven't been to Crooks but there's a couple shrimp n grits recipes on the web that claim to be from Crooks. They both call for quick gritts, and that just won't do. I hope that's not really what they use.

  • Squeek Jun 4, 2007

    I was born and raised in NC, but have never heard of "shrimp and grits". Also, I need the directions to Crooks, I'd love to try some. Anybody care to give me the recipe? and make the subject "shrimp and grits" so I don't automatically delete it. Thanks.

  • innocent bystander Jun 4, 2007

    Shrimp n grits is the best southern dish there is. It deserves its own blog. The key is stone ground grits, slow cooked and creamy, and fresh shrimp. Don't mess around with instant gritts or frozen shrimp. We like to use shrimp stock instead of plain water in the gritts. Gives the dish a great shrimpy flavor and is a good use fer the heads.

  • Lady Jun 4, 2007

    i'm sad to say i'm not really a shrimp and grits fan, but maybe it's just that i haven't had a great version! guess i'll have to check them out at crook's sometime.

    as for honeysuckle, it always reminds me of this path on the edge of the woods where i used to play with my friends. there was also a small stream where we'd make clay pots and get ridiculously dirty!




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