Food news roundup

What’s next for Scott Howell of Nana’s in Durham? Find out in Andrea Weigl’s Mouthful blog for The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), here.

Kathleen Purvis at the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer writes about those who take the bounty of summer to those who need hunger relief. Read more here.

Cherry tomatoes stuffed with a pound of bacon. Sounds good to me. The recipe is in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, here.

The photo is a little scary, but Craig LeHoullier is not as crazy about tomatoes as he seems in it – not quite. Read more about Raleigh heirloom tomato guy in the Independent Weekly (Durham, N.C.) here.

Tomatoes are also the theme of a novice gardener’s first year of planting in VarmintBites. Man, they look good.

The juicy filling in the bun in the photo looks like barbecue, but it can’t be – since the post is all about vegan slow cooking. Tips and ideas worth trying if you are cutting back on animal products are at HealthySlowCooking.

Market restaurant in Raleigh is installing beehives on its roof, and is offering a movie and music tonight to raise awareness about bee loss and funds for the project. Read more in DurhamFoodie.

Tips for hosting your own wine tasting are at NatalieMaclean.


Beer Run: Starrlight Meadery

Aristotle discussed it and Danish warriors in “Beowulf” quaffed it, but is mead beer or wine? At Starrlight Meadery in Pittsboro, N.C., it’s considered wine, although during the thousands of years that mead has been produced the definition has gone both ways.

The Hub and I learned in our tour of Starrlight that mead is made from honey, water and yeast (in this case, a winemakers’ yeast). All the honey comes from North Carolina sources, and the meadery needs a lot of it: It takes 60 pounds of honey to produce one 265-gallon tank of mead. The mixture ferments for two to four months, depending on the sweetness desired in the final product. The resulting mead has similar alcohol content to wine, 12 to 13 percent, and should be handled and stored like wine.

The honey used gives distinctive qualities to the mead produced because the flavor of honey varies depending on what flowers the bees visit and the time of year. Blending the honeys is an art. Starrlight’s flavored meads use concentrates ordered commercially.

We were not sure we’d like any of the seven meads Starrlight makes. Mead is made from honey, after all, and we are not fans of sweet wine. We were surprised. They are not syrupy sweet. Now, if your favorite wine is a big dry Cab, don’t bother. But if you’re open to softer wines, mead offers something different. We tasted (for $5 and you get to keep the glass) Traditional Mead – Off Dry, Off-Dry Blackberry Mead, Traditional Mead – Semi-sweet, Semi-sweet Blackberry Mead, Spiced Apple Mead and Meadjitos, a semi-sweet mead flavored with mint and lime. The traditional meads were our least favorites. Although they had wonderful aromas, like a field of flowers, the bitter edge that honey has came through, to me. The Off-Dry Blackberry is designed to resemble a red wine and smelled like a sherry. The Semi-sweet Blackberry was thicker, like a port, and it could be served in similar situations. Two of our favorites were the apple and Meadjitos. The apple would be great warmed as a mulled wine or combined with hot cider, or cooked into a sauce. I could see the Meadjitos, created to taste like mojitos, over ice on a hot day or mixed with cold seltzer. The meadery was out of the Sweet Peach when we visited; we were told it has been a favorite.

More about the meadery is here. Tours and tastings are offered each weekend, and the shop has medieval-style tankards for quaffing at home, if you are low on dragon-decorated chalices.

Food news roundup

Germs, germs everywhere. Bwahahaha! Banish the baddies with advice from the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer on how to get a kitchen really clean. And you don’t need a flamethrower, but it does make cleaning more fun. Read more here. It’s in The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) as well, where Andrea Weigl admits her failure at dining primarily from her pantry. Gee, thanks for reminding me about all that corn in my freezer.

Wine and basketball? Whoa, is the universe off its axis? The Independent Weekly (Durham, N.C.) seriously posits the theory that the fruit of the vine can accompany hoops as well as the mash of the hops. Read more here.

The Zenchilada, an eclectic online magazine based in New Mexico, ranges around the country. The new issue has an article by Chapel Hill baker April McGreger on using wild greens.

We have tiger’s blood, tiger mothers and now, “A Tiger in the Kitchen.” The book is about Cheryl Tan’s rediscovery of her family history and cooking of Singapore. Read more in the Sacramento Bee, here.

Another way in which the Chinese are eating our lunch: They can actually carry eggs in a bag, instead of padded and pouched in cartons, as we soft Americans do. Read about that phenomenon and more in TheChinaRogect, a former Raleighite’s adventures in China.

Sure, anyone can tailgate for NASCAR or football in a plain, old car. But it takes someone special to tailgate in a tricked-out garbage truck. See it and other rigs at TailgatingIdeas.

A food lover’s guide to North Carolina

Visiting farmers markets, farm stands, microbreweries and anything else interesting in the food area is part of any vacation I take. I usually research online and print out notes on sheets of paper, which end up flying all around the back seat of the car.

Now there’s a book I can leave in the back seat wherever I go, and it will stay put. “Farm Fresh North Carolina” by Diane Daniel (The University of North Carolina Press, $18.95) is a collection of information on farmers markets, farm stands, wineries, dining locations and more all over the state. Daniel, who lives in Durham, selected the places to include based on her visits to the locations and the experiences she had. You’re unlikely to run out of things to do on vacation – or even with spare time near home – with this book in hand.

It goes beyond simple listings with mini-profiles of farmers and producers, historical facts and recipes. Everyone with an opinion may question the restaurant selections, but I agree with most.

The problem with guidebooks like this one is they can quickly become outdated. Daniel plans to address this issue by posting updates to the book on her website here. However, the book itself will not be online.

More Carolina wineries

Can you believe North Carolina now has 100 wineries? The new Cauble Creek Vineyard in Salisbury brings the count to that number, the North Carolina Wine & Grape Council has announced. It also says that most Tar Heels now live within 100 miles of a winery. Even moonshine isn’t that convenient these days.

Cauble Creek uses muscadine grapes, a sweet native grape. The wine industry started with muscadines and scuppernongs, but many wineries grow the European varieties now.

Food news roundup

I didn’t know what a whoopie pie was until a few years ago, probably because they were common in Pennsylvania and other parts of the frozen North, not the South. When I did encounter them, I was suspicious. They are not pie. They resembled the packaged creme-filled oatmeal cookies my mother used to buy by the truckload. But the real thing couldn’t be more different, and whoopie pies are sweeping cupcakes out the door in national popularity, so says the Charlotte Observer. After reading the article, I can see why: Fluffy filling between soft, cakey, portable cookies. No sugary frosting all over your nose, as happens to me when trying to eat the towering cupcakes people seem to produce. Read more here. It’s also in The News & Observer.

A coveted veggie burger recipe from Raleigh, N.C.’s Vivace is in The News & Observer here.

Whoa, there’s a winter weather advisory for Winston-Salem, N.C.? Oh, wait, I was supposed to be looking for food articles… Chapel Hill, N.C. cookbook author Nancie McDermott will be doing a signing in my old hometown and you can read about it in the Winston-Salem Journal,  here.

You can be a smart wine buyer who gets good vino without floating a loan. The Minneapolis Star Tribune will tell you how here. And the catwalk of dressed-up wine bottles is adorable.

An Indian-spiced version of raita using apples is a different approach to the fall fruit. Find the recipe in the Salt Lake Tribune, here.

The much-discussed Husk restaurant in Charleston, S.C. opened this week, and the Post and Courier has a video report on the opening here. Husk’s chef Sean Brock has vowed to use predominantly ingredients sourced in the South.

Food news roundup

It tickles me to see children under double digits in age getting into cooking. The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) has the stories of and recipes from two who won cooking competitions at the recent North Carolina State Fair. One keeps notebooks of potential taste combinations – could this be a future Iron Chef? Read about them here.

Sweet tea is the traditional accompaniment to a plate of North Carolina barbecue, or maybe a beer if your Mama’s not looking. But the Charlotte Observer offers fine wines for the swine. Read about it here.

Y’all don’t realize how tough a food writer’s job is. Read the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal article on a sake tasting, and have sympathy. Poor Michael Hastings, having to drink all that sake, and provide information too.

Learn to make no-knead focaccia via a step-by-step video at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Couldn’t be easier. Look here.

You can’t get locally grown coffee beans here, but you can locally roast them. The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) tells how to do it in a skillet. I’ve seen people use a Whirley-Pop popcorn popper, too. Find the technique here.

Food news roundup

Things that go bump in the kitchen are all over The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) today as it offers recipes for Halloween. The green-tentacled cupcake is particularly menacing. Read more here, if you dare. It’s in the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, too, as is a discussion on making sustainable food affordable, here.

More spooky sweets are in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, along with the answer to a request for an authentic Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich. Look here, and Kentuckians will have to tell me if it’s the real thing.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wades into the ever-heated burger controversy here, which was revived by author Alton Brown’s declaration that the burgers at one Atlanta restaurant are the best in the nation.

It’s the battle of the bottles in the Boston Globe. See which $12-and-under wines have nothing to whine about here.

I thought murder mystery parties went out in the ’90s, but here they are again in The Washington Post. The draw in this case is having fun with the food. Read more here.

What are the worst beers in the world? Find out in the Houston Chronicle, here.

Food news roundup

Side dishes don’t get any respect. Many people toss a salad, plop it next to a hunk of chicken and call it a meal. The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer today offers easy ways to make sides more interesting. I can vouch for the roasted green beans – put any vegetable in the oven (or on the grill) and it just seems to get better. Read more here. It’s also in The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), as is an article on two people who got laid off from their jobs and decided to become farmers. Read about them here.

Usually when you call out for pizza, just the pizza comes to your house. But a Winston-Salem, N.C. man will bring the entire oven to you and cook gourmet pizza on site. Read about him in the Winston-Salem Journal here.

The Independent Weekly (Durham, N.C.) reviews a new book on the history of wine making in North Carolina. Believe it or not, Fayetteville, N.C. used to be a center of fine wine made by a former Confederate general. Read more about the book here.

Parsley  – it isn’t just a garnish anymore. It’s a real ingredient. The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) offers recipes and tips to give the green stuff some respect. Even the much-maligned curly parsley. The article is here.

The North Carolina State Fair is just a few weeks away, and there is always fierce competition in the food and cooking contests. The Dallas Morning News interviews past winners at the Texas State Fair, who provided tips for this year’s competitors. And, boy, do I want a big bite of that cake in the photo. Steal some ideas here.

If canning is too daunting for you, soak fruit in alcohol to preserve it. The New York Times tells you how today. It’s all here.

Do you heart local food?

Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday (this Sunday, just in case you haven’t made arrangements for that special food blogger in your life). If you want to leave your evening free for other activities, and do something different, consider the “I Love U Lunch.” Slow Food Triangle, The Abundance Foundation and the economic advocacy group Loom are bringing together a list of local food producers including Celebrity Dairy, Scratch Baking, Carolina Brewery and the General Store Cafe in Pittsboro, N.C. The lunch, which will be held from 1 p.m. to -4 p.m. in the historic Chatham Mills in Pittsboro, N.C., will raise awareness of renovations at the mill and benefit the food co-op there, Chatham Marketplace. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door (children under 12 are $8), and can be purchased here.

You can warm up for Valentine’s Day and feel good about it on Wednesday, Feb. 10.  Fleming’s Steakhouse at
Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, N.C. holds  “Wine Wednesday” each month to benefit a different charity. This month’s charity is the Lucy Daniels Center, a nonprofit which provides mental health services for children. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., five different wines will be available by the glass at the bar at $10 per glass. All of that money goes to the charity.   There’ll also be complementary appetizers.

And while we’re all in a loving mood, don’t forget that it’s CSA sign-up time – show the love to your favorite farmer. Find a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)  in your part of North Carolina in this list at the Growing Small Farms section of the Chatham County Center of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. Thanks to Debbie Roos of the extension service for compiling this excellent resource.