Category Archives: Food and Wine

O yeah + the Sand Bar + 100 years of Oreo + shuffle off to somewhere

O Yeah
I haven’t quite decided yet, but as job piles go, I either sank to the bottom of or climbed to the top this week when I found myself actually applying for 27 jobs in Canada.  Not the “eh” Canada … the “oui” Canada.  Queest-ce que je pensais?

Truth be told, for about the last 10 years whenever I found myself getting itchy for change, I’d do one of two things … come home from work, pour a glass of wine and scour the web for

1. beach bars for sale in the tropics
2. job opportunities with Cirque du Soleil

Note that both things involve wine.  Crazy, I know.  Two such disparate callings … there is nothing I can offer in the way of explanation.  Nothing that makes sense anyway.  Well, there was that childhood fantasy of running away to join the circus …

Soggy Dollar Bar Jost Van Dyke, BVI

In my own private version of Fantasy Island, Ricardo Montalban and Hervé Villechaize would be welcoming me.  De Bar!  De Bar!

The Sand Bar.  Built close to the sea on the sand, I’d never have to … well, do things like vacuum, sweep or mop ever again.  My toes … your toes … all God’s chillun’s toes would always be in the sand.

I’d pour wines I would drink, grill extraordinary seafood and cheeseburgers on my oil drum Chargrill  … basically spending all my days and nights polishing glasses, listening to music, wearing flip flops (or not), and living the low life.

A couple of years ago I found what could have been THE perfect place.  Island Blues, a bar in Coral Bay, St. John, USVI that had also been the home of the St. John Blues Festival.  All the signs pointed to “yes” … it was even on Carolina Avenue. How’s that for a sign?  I had this great idea that I could help raise the money by selling endowed deckchairs.  Beautiful teak numbers with an engraved brass plaque on the back. Your chair. Your beach. Your view.  Why didn’t y’all fall for that?  All I needed was 350 of my closest friends to fork over 1k each. You could be there sitting in your chair right this minute. You know who you are.

There was also the vineyard on Crete.  The small beachfront hotel in Roatan.  The seafront B&B in Belize.  Good thing my credit card has a low limit.  Yet, in the immortal words of Aerosmith, Dream on … dream until the dream comes true.

But back to Canada … about as far away as you can get from a tropical paradise.  It’s the frozen north. It’s where you ran away to dodge the draft. It’s Hymns of the 49th Parallel.

The same country that had American kids everywhere singing Alouette.

Currently being used in a Target TV commercial, I found myself singing along with this French Canadian folksong the other day. Did I know what I was singing? Not really, so I searched for translated lyrics online.  This sweet sounding little progression song is disturbing on so many levels.

Lark, lovely Lark
Lark, I am going to pluck you
I am going to pluck your head,
I am going to pluck your head,
And the head, and the head,
O-o-o-o-oh …..

All followed by the successive plucking of various bird parts ….  beak, eyes, neck, wings, back, legs and tail. YOW!

What we have here is a perky, infectious melody about bird dismemberment, innocently and happily sung by little kids.  Coming from a country whose national sports are ice hockey and lacrosse, a little bird bashing isn’t really such a big deal. Sure, this could have been written by a chef plucking a bird prior to cooking, but how much sustenance could the tiny lark offer after all that plucking?  But, here I go getting off track again.

Cirque du Soleil
Pure take-your-breath-away magic.  A circus worth working for in any language. Every time I’d verbalize my wish to work for CdS, inevitably I’d hear “as a performer?”  Smack your own face for even asking such a silly question. Of course not as a performer. Do I look like I’ve had years and years of acrobatic training to the exclusion of all else?  Bend and twist like a pretzel?  Soar across a room on a scarf? I do not. I wear scarves, not hang on to them 50 feet in the air.  But I could help them do it from behind the scenes.  Can you imagine how many people it takes to make all that magic happen on stage?

So this was the week.   Oh, I don’t expect to ever hear from them, but I created my own internal magic just by hitting the submit button.  Under special talents, I listed “can ask how to get to the library, as well as sing Alouette, Frère Jacques, Dominique, and La Marseillaise.”  I’d hire me just for that.

Happy 100th birthday to Oreo!

Regular or Doublestuff?  Twist and lick?  Just bite?  As a milk dipper? How do you eat yours?

Did you know that Nabisco holds a worldwide Oreo Stacking Competition?  How high could you go?_________________________________________________________

Shuffling off to Buffalo, over the Rainbow Bridge and hang a right … a variation on hymns from the 49th:
Long May You Run (Neil Young)
River (Joni Mitchell)
Great Big Love (Bruce Cockburn)
Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye (Leonard Cohen)
Love is Everything (Jane Siberry)

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees + the name game redux + shrimp & grits throwdown

We’re Too Busy Singing …
My friend Mississippi posted on Facebook this morning “Davey Jones has died. I thought the woman was joking when she told me, but then I saw her face and now I’m a bereaver.”   That made me smile so I’m stealing it.

Yesterday when I heard, I couldn’t ignore the ripple of sadness.

There goes yet another puzzle piece of my youth.  Got me puzzling about all the pieces. And how we often think they’re all in place, only to see them come undone.  Forcing new pieces in to the missing space just doesn’t work. What happens to us when we lose those pieces that have been so firmly in place for so long?

Misspent or not, my life was held in place by music.  Notice I didn’t say grounded … grounded was what happened when you got in trouble.  My parents, frequent grounders of me, did not like The Rolling Stones, but they loved the wholesome Monkees. Ha … little did they know.  They even took us  … well … I already wrote about this and couldn’t say it any better with new words, so I’m quoting/stealing from myself:

“But back to Dad … who Christmas of 1967 gave us four kids two tickets each, and piled eight kids in a car to see the Monkees in Winston-Salem, only to find me sitting out in the hall in a euphoric haze while the Monkees sugar-popped away inside. “You’re missing the Monkees,” he said. The opening act was Jimi Hendrix and I was now “experienced.” Had seen God. At seventeen, I was too young to recognize the gris-gris that Mitch Mitchell was throwing out there, but I caught it anyway. At the crossroads, I went left and never looked back.”
-excerpt from Come They Told Me. dpm 2011

My IPod carries a good portion of the soundtrack of my life – past and present. Most of it anyway … though there’s not a Monkee’s song to be found. Yet. But I still find myself singing along to “Daydream Believer,” and “I’m a Believer” whenever I hear them.  One of my favorites was the rarely, if ever heard, “I Wanna Be Free.”

Michael Nesmith

I was a Michael Nesmith fan. I don’t know why I liked that wool cap, but I did. He was my first “type” and would come to define the kinds of guys that made my knees weak and my resolve even weaker,  especially after he grew a moustache and beard.  Gotta love a man with a beautiful Gretsch guitar.

His mother invented Liquid Paper.

I even gave my virginity to a Michael Nesmith look-alike who worked at Harry’s on Franklin Street.  Whenever I saw a picture of Nesmith, it took me back to the note that Jim (the clone) wrote on an order pad sheet and handed to me when he came to take our order …  “coffee, tea, or me?”  I ordered and we went to his place.  I spent the whole time pretending it was Michael Nesmith. I still have that note.  No amount of White-Out will ever erase that.

Long story short. AT&T accidentally cut my phone line doing an install. Almost 2 weeks to get them back.  Assigned repair tech calls this  morning to confirm that he’ll be here between 1 & 6pm.  What’s his name?  Robert.

Lordy, Lordy … another phenomTuesday night blues jam at The Blue Note Grill!  Trust me. Just go. Be amazed.


After putting on my best  Shrimp & Grits Throwdown face for this sold-out event at The Carolina Inn here in Chapel Hill, I was ready to mingle with  5 of my favorite celebrity judges, 7 of my favorite local chefs, and over 225 guests. Can you  imagine anything other than a mouthwatering afternoon? I was even considering taking my favorite spoon, but that would verge on tacky.

We judges, sequestered in the Sun Room with bottles of wine and plates of cheese, were warned that plates would come every 7 minutes. And come they did … each a unique interpretation.  Or course we tried to match each dish to the participating chefs.  And the winner was Trey Cleveland from Top of the Hill. Following close on his heels by only one point was Jimmy Reale, Carolina Crossroads/The Carolina Inn.  Fan favorite went to Vimala Rajendran/Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café whose version was full of palate-teasing Indian spiciness.

The event raised it’s goal of $2,000 for TABLE, Inc., serving Chapel Hill and Carrboro children at risk for hunger.

Music on Shuffle

Do you believe in magic? + the name game + Sunday supper + music on shuffle

Will McFarlane & Band at The Blue Note Grill

Holy rock and roller! 
Where there’s a Will there’s a way …  a Will McFarlane, that is.  Way is for his playing … as in way great … as in the way that everyone playing with him just automatically amps way up a couple of notches … as in the way all of us witnessing said playing at the Blue Note Grill last night are jaw-droppingly mesmerized … as in the way it turned into a family affair with Will’s wife, Janet, sharing vocals and son, Jamie, on bass.  Well, you get most of the picture … the rest of which includes Clark Stern on keyboards and Justin Holder on drums.  If you don’t believe me, go google these players.

Three sets, three handsome men sharing my table (Robert, David & Mike), and three glasses of Matchbook Cab later and I still wasn’t ready to go home and break the spell.  The band brought their A-game with Standy By Me, Bring it on Home, Do Right Woman,  Nadine, My Little Runaway, Dixie Chicken … it was pure magic. I could go on and on, but then I’d just be rubbing it in.
Robert \r(o)-be-rt\ a boy’s name pronounced RAH-bert is of Old German origin and means  “bright fame.” A favorite name for boys since the Middle Ages. Especially favored by the Scots due to 14th-century king Robert the Bruce and to poet Robert Burns. (Credit:

I know how many of you are laughing already. I’d laugh too if it wasn’t just so damn weird … and a little creepy, if I think about it long and hard enough. If you’ve heard, or read, about my boomerang drummer phenomenon, then you shouldn’t be surprised here … this is just one further example of my inescapable universal loop.  (Jump over here to peek behind the cymbals if you have no clue what I’m talking about.)

Somewhere early in the Life of Me, “it” was written. Or maybe the “Bob” fairy waved a magic wand over my bald baby head or cut my baby powder with something dark and twisty assuring that I would forever have some sort of Robert in my life. What Dr. Seuss character was let loose in my life story, I wanna know?  Bob, I am?  And why a Robert, fer cryin’ out loud?  Why not a Willie or a Sam? What possible lesson could I learn by having a Robert … or a Bob … or a Bobby … or a Rob?  None, I tell you … none.

But have them I do. It’s not even something you can take precautions against.  About a year and a half ago I was actually seeing two Roberts’ at the same time … and I admit right here and now that I got a bit of a cheap thrill out of it. At least I didn’t have to ever worry about calling one of them the wrong name during an intimate moment.

When I meet a man and he tells me his name is Robert/Bob/Bobby, I just smile knowingly and say “of course, it is” … much the same way I respond  “of course, you are”  if they tell me they are a drummer.

Far be it from me to try to make sense of this cosmic name game.
Robert, Robert, bo-bobert,
fee-fi-m0-mobert. Robert!

I don’t make this stuff up.  Cross my heart. Hope to ….
Sunday just squawks for roast chicken and biscuits.  And this Sunday it’s supposed to be cold and rainy, with even a slight chance of snow in the mix … so there you go.

Just slide some garlic herb butter up underneath the skin, nestle that bird in a big old Le Creuset pot with some white wine, garlic, potatoes, carrots, onions, fennel, mushrooms, peas and some tarragon tucked in around it … pop that baby in the oven for a couple of hours.

Serve it with a salad, biscuits, and a bottle of pinot noir.   And for those of you who only drink white wine with chicken … yes, it’s ok to drink white wine before Labor Day.

Is this a good time to mention that my friend Robert is coming over for supper?
Music on ShuffleMusic to shuffle through while roasting a bird:
The Funky Chicken (Rufus Thomas)
Fire (Bruce Springsteen)
Wasn’t Born to Follow (The Byrds)
I’ll Fly Away (Gillian Welch/Alison Krauss)
How Long (The Eagles)
Fly Like an Eagle (Steve Miller Band)
Free Bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

Advice for the lovelorn + love at any age + Glasshalfull + music on shuffle

My friend, Laurie, told me this week I should write something that includes advice for the lovelorn.  According to Merriam Webster, the definition of lovelorn is bereft of love or of a lover, of which I wish to state right up front, I am neither.  But just to be sure, I looked up bereft … an adj. meaning deprived or robbed of the possession or use of something —usually used with of.   The online Etymology Dictionary indicates it’s a term from the 1630’s … love + lorn (see lose).

I’m not sure why she thinks I would qualify to expound positively, negatively or otherwise on love or lorn, me being single and all … but she had me in a position on her massage table where I was so relaxed and in a state of complete zen that I wasn’t likely to argue with her about anything.   My earlier comment that a man should woo a woman for a lifetime must have touched her soul.  And I meant it … even if he has been sleeping next to her for 50 years in ratty old flannel pajamas.  Before I get into trouble, here, I also believe a woman has her own longterm wooing to do … both have to commit from the get-go to making and stoking fire.  In this case, it IS about the little things.

From the view from my heart, I’ve been lucky in love.  Lucky enough to have fallen world-spinning, vision-blinding, crazy-making in love three (okay, five, maybe six) times in my life.  You could say unlucky that I’m not with any of them, but that would diminish the original statement.  Lucky that I’m still friends with almost all of them … those that are still alive with a sense of forgiveness anyway.  There’s one from art school that I can’t find, but he’ll surface one day. I just feel it.  The real unlucky part is that in one of those, I fell alone. Totally by myself.  Oh, he pushed me alright, but once I was headed over the edge, he didn’t bother to fall with me.  Kerplunk! And I dangled there for more years than I can count. Too many.

But that was a long time ago and Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Love is in the air, as it should be.  To you upstate … I will always remain wistful  … I wish I had taken better care of your heart … you are the pirate’s booty in my life even today for the friends we have become.  I love you.  You know that.  To you across town whom I’ve  never met …  somedaymaybebaby.

Is that lovelorn enough?  ‘Cause it’s a beautiful day and I’ve got places to go and people to see.  Looking for love in places I never dreamed I’d go 🙂
Carol Woods. Saturday morning before Valentine’s Day.  Love at any age.
For the last 11 years, A Helping Hand has been the driving force behind an annual Valentine Delivery and Serenade that actually gets out and delivers more than 3,000 hand-crafted valentines to older adults.  Oh, wait … I’m an older adult. I guess I should say seniors.  How many years before I qualify for that?

This year kicked off at Carol Woods Retirement Community in Chapel Hill with a capella performances by the UNC Achordants, the UNC Loreleis, and the Duke Rhythm and Blue, who shared love songs with residents.  After performing in the assembly hall, the 3 groups split up to visit the various assisted living buildings and health care center residents delivering valentines, long-stemmed roses and love songs.

The UNC Achordants

Earlier when I was talking about luck … this is where mine kicks in!  I got to escort the UNC Achordants around. Imagine. Me and some 15 or so adorable and talented men.  Seriously.   These guys are  … ok, I’ll just whisper it  … hurt me now … awesome.  Even their Facebook page states “Singing people’s faces off since 2011 and still going strong.”  And don’t even start with me about tiptoeing into cougar territory.  It was not, I repeat, NOT about that.  They went above and beyond.  Go take a listen to More Than A Feeling on Grooveshark.

In one of the dining halls, several of these young men circulated the room, going down on one knee to take the hands of a few of the women. To see the girlish blush of delight on the women’s faces at being personally sung to by a handsome young man … well … that’s wooing at its finest.   Made my poor romantic heart proud.  UNC Achordants, y’all done good. Real good!

Coincidentally, my parents live here.  I had to hold back tears at watching my Mom, who has fairly advanced dementia, flirt with one of the young male singers.  She can’t remember who I am, but by God, she remembers the words to songs.   When I can’t reach her, we sing together and for a whisper of a moment we are connected again.


Should have guessed with First Friday Artwalk that Glasshalfull would be jam packed, and it was. Good for them!  I love seeing my favorite places (this being one of them) owned by some of my favorite people (these being Mickey, Betsy and Jim) filled with happy customers.   I was contributing to the happy … dressed up and out with a charming man, and he was enjoying that I decided to go with a little décolletage.

GHF is always at the top of my “go-to” list.  Armed with a bottle of  Row Eleven Pinot Noir (2007 Santa Maria Valley, CA), we shared the Charcuterie and Cheese Plates, so as to leave room for dessert.

Music on Shuffle

January is the new spring + The Music Arc + Shrimp & Grits

Is January the new spring?  It appears to be. I’ve been out without a coat. Not just once.  There’s things blooming in my yard. They should be afraid. Global warning at it’s freakiest. 

There’s fun to be had tonight at The Blue Note Grill, since it’s blues jam night and all.  And the full moon’s bound to have somebody howlin’.  What if it’s me?  Look out!

 I’ve got my hair up in pink foam rollers and am ironing my new blue jeans.  Not really, but you get the idea. I do plan to put on some clothes before I go, however.  They’ll appreciate that.

So I’m getting my head ready by listening to a couple of favorite music mixes … a little blues, a little rock, a little of this and that.  I’m head-bobbing as I type even now.  Alejandro Escovedo’s People We’re Only Going to Live So Long is making me smile.  Color me curious … I just can’t seem to stop my fingertips from googling … they have a mind of their own.   I start with You Tube and find something described as a “CHURCH FRIENDLY VERSION of a song by Alejandro Escovedo.”   WTH?  (This is me being nice and replacing the “fword” with the “hword” just in case my future employers are googling me 🙂  A church friendly version?  I personally can’t see anything offensive, but it takes alot to offend me.  I may just try to find a church to take this to. It’s practically a dare, don’t you think?

So on I go. Wait.  There’s a connection to Chuck Prophet, singer/songwriter of Summetime Thing, an old favorite that shuffles through on my IPod with surprising regularity.  Seems Prophet was co-writer on Escovedo’s Real Animal. Really?  The google path arcs off to Prophet and, low and behold, he has a new album, Temple Beautiful, that comes out TODAY!  And that arcs back to Yep Roc Records …. who are located just down the road in Haw River, NC.    I’m pretty sure this all has something to do with that full moon out there. I’m not exactly howling, but I’m moaning a little bit.

This cracked me up this week … and is one of the best explanations I’ve ever seen … so without further blah-blah:
Social Media Explained:
Twitter         –  I’m eating a #Donut
Facebook     –  I like donuts
FourSquare –  This is where I eat donuts
Instagram    –  Here’s a vintage photo of my donut
YouTube      –  Here I am eating a donut
LinkedIn      –  My skills include donut eating
Pinterest      –  Here’s a donut recipe
LastFM         –  Now listening to “donuts”
G+                 –  I’m a Google employee who eats donuts
Shrimp & Grits Throwdown at The Carolina Inn

Shrimp~N~Grits Throwdown @ The Carolina Inn

Seven local star chefs from renowned restaurants will compete for the title and bragging rights of Shrimp and Grits Champion in the inaugural Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chefs’ Throwdown on Saturday, February 25 from 1-4 pm at The Carolina Inn.

Tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased online at

The competing chefs (as of now) feature Jeremy Blankenship, Chef of Tyler’s Tap Room; Trey Cleveland, Executive Chef of Top of the Hill; Adam Cobb, Executive Chef of Glasshalfull; Bret Jennings, Executive Chef and Owner of Elaine’s on Franklin; Vimala Rajendran, Executive Chef and Owner of Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café; Jimmy Reale, Executive Chef of Carolina Crossroads Restaurant and Bar; and Adam Rose, Executive Chef of Il Palio.

Aaron Nelson, President of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber, will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the Throwdown. The judging panel includes Andrea Griffith Cash, Editor for Chapel Hill Magazine; Deborah Miller, Host of SideDish on 1360 WCHL and Simmer2Sizzle Blogger; Laurie Paolicelli, Executive Director of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau; Kevin Schwartz, Director of The Daily Tar Heel; and Andrea Weigl, Food Writer for The News & Observer.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to TABLE, serving Chapel Hill-Carrboro children at risk for hunger. Patrons are also asked to bring canned food and nonperishable items to donate at the event. For more information, contact
I know, I know …. music on shuffle.  But I’m tired and want to go to bed. I promise I’ll shuffle off some notes in the morning.  Stay tuned.

The Blue Note + The Cradle + Chirba Chirba + Music on Shuffle

Ok, I admit it … I’ve been a bit distracted.  It’s not you; it’s me.  Really.

Let me count the ways. Numerous visits to the Blue Note Grill, a night at the Cradle (just last Saturday), a trip to Memphis (2 weeks ago), discovering some new music while in Memphis (more about that later), the holidays, etc…

The Blue Note Grill

The Blue Note Grill

The Blue Note.  I could live here maybe. I hear they have a sofa in the Boom Boom Room.  And I guess before I go spending any nights in there, I need to find out why it’s called the Boom Boom Room.

I tend to get in trouble here.  The really fun part is that they let me and kinda watch out for me while I’m doing it.   It’s my goal to introduce TBNG to all the uninitiated. If you are one of them and would like to change that, let me know and go with me next time … which is likely going to be for the standing Tuesday night blues jam with Butch Haas. Expect the usual suspects, plus some, including … get this …. two kids, one around eight, the other around twelve and you won’t believe the chops on these guys.  Tell Bill I sent you and see what that gets you other than a knowing smile.

New Year’s Eve 2012 – Memphis

New Year’s Eve, Memphis, TN.  Waved bye to Memphis in 1992. Now I go back once or twice a year. One of those is New Year’s. It’s like I never left.  It’s even predictable.  The only variables are the number of people around the table and how close we make it to midnight – the near or the far side. In the chaos and unsurety of life today, that’s a big warm and fuzzy.

The piano is the centerpiece. There are guitars. There are instruments of percussion (I know ’cause that’s what I play :).  There are songs that always get sung. Bob’s new songs. Andy’s new songs. Carol’s new songs. Geo’s new songs.

Then come the tried-and-trues like this song written by Andy, Carol, Wayne & Rick a couple of years ago …  06 LookWho’sComingHomeForChristmas.  Listen to it now. It should be a holiday standard AND it should be recorded by someone well-known and famous. We need to get this song to Scotty McCreery or Alabama or some other country artist … can anybody help me with that? All my rowdy friends are settled in the ground.

Multiple bottles of bubbly and God-knows-how-much-fun later, we weave off to bed. Some mornings we count the bottles … mostly we just squint at them wishing the bottle top would stop gaping at us all judge and jury like while eating toast, drinking coffee, and reminding each other who did what to who and why.  It’s once a year, fercrhissakes.  

Cat’s Cradle A chilly mid-January Saturday just seems to scream for finding warmth by rubbing shoulders with, hmmmm, 600 of your closet neighbors, most of whom you hope you never cross paths with again by the end of the night.  

Out of the teeming, loud, obnoxious and disrespectful masses in the sold-out crowd, my friend Liz and I may very well have been the only ones who were there to actually see and hear Jim Avett. It was clear that no one else cared that he was singing and playing his heart out to an audience there to see the MIPSO Trio.  The good news is that he’s performing in Chapel Hill again on Feb. 3 at Local 506 with Dark Water Rising.  I’ll be there. Respectfully appreciative and expectant.  And you … if you are reading this … you know exactly what I mean by expectant.

Chirba Chirba Dumplings

Chirba Chirba!  Eat eat!  Hoo hoo!

Congratulations, my little dumpling makers and food truckers.    You’re really going somewhere ( I only wish that somewhere included Chapel Hill, who still won’t support food trucks). 

Chirba Chirba Dumpling was featured in an episode of My Family Recipe Rocks, a new show on The Living Well Channel (HD channel 1112 on TWC if you live in Chapel Hill). 

Click here to watch!   Just try to pretend that former boy bander Joey Fatone is someone else. Anyone else.  If you haven’t tried Chirba Chirba’s Sweet Sausage, a sweet and savory Hong Kong style sausage … you need to get on that right now. 

AND … click here to listen to my recent SideDish interview with Chirba Chirba’s Chela Yu.  This show taught me about something other than dumplings.  I started every single sentence with the word “so” … made me cringe outloud.  So … working on that.

Music on ShuffleMusic to make up for going too long between posts
Let This Heartbreak Begin (Carter, Doster, Sexton Band)
Walking in Memphis (Marc Cohn)
Pennies on the Floor (The Little Willies)
Moonlight Kiss (Bap Kennedy)
Love – Renaissance, Part 1 – Marc Almond
Lime on the Rim – Bob Cheevers

Introduction to Carter, Doster, Sexton Band from Austin came by way of my good friend, Bob Cheevers, over the holidays.  I’ve got them on permanenet shuffle for the time being ’cause I just can’t stop with these guys.  Only been to Austin twice … both times back in ’79 first with Eddie Rabbitt and then a few months later when I was working with The Cars. We stayed at The Driskell. It was the advent of the Car Wash, an after show ritual that involved getting wet in the dressing room … I’ll say no more 🙂  Use your imagination, people. 

But thank you, thank you, B for this.  And as the last shuffle … that’s Bob singing one of my favorites of his.

Joe Kwon on SideDish + Papa Mojo’s + Blue Note Grill + Music for Making Gingerbread + Foodimentary

Joe Kwon - Taste on Tour: Food on the Road blogger & cellist for The Avett Bros.

Joe Kwon/SideDish – Click to listen
Yes, I’m feeling full of myself right now.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all my SideDish guests … there’s something that happens in that studio every time that almost always amazes and tickles me.  But having Joe Kwon, cellist for The Avett Brothers and fellow food blogger with Taste on Tour: Food on the Road sitting across from me felt … well … double, triple, quadruple wondermous.  This is a gentle classically trained musician who becomes a bow-shredding fireball on stage. 

Raise your hand if you don’t know that The Avett Bros. are up there at the top of my favorite list. If you aren’t raising your hand, you clearly don’t know me well enough.  Give me an afternoon and I’ll convert you.  

Stay tuned for air dates!  And thank you, Joe, for being that guy that I imagined you to be and letting me behave like the huge fan that I am.  Enjoy that travel pepper grinder! 

Delta Moon at Papa Mojo's Roadhouse

Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse/ Delta Moon
Follow me down this circuitous path for a sec. I promise it will make sense.  

Even though they met in Atlanta (not exactly the Mississippi delta), a pilgrimage to visit the home of Muddy Waters down yonder in Clarksdale, MS inspired Tom Gray and Mark Johnson to name their newly formed band Delta Moon.  Somewhere around 2007 they bring in a new bassist, Franher Joseph, who just happens to be from Haiti … again, not exactly a hotbed of blues. So how the hell did this unlikely crew morph into a hot rockin’ blues band with two … yep … two slide guitar players?  They just did and, I for one, am damn glad.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to see these guys for a good while … pretty much ever since my good friend Dwight sent me “Goin’ Down South,” an album from 2004.  So, color me frisky with excitement to see them on the schedule at Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse on Dec. 10.   What a show they put on!  Chef and Papa Mojo’s owner Mel Melton offered up his own wicked  mojo as he stepped in to jam from time to time on harp.

The bass

The bass.  I couldn’t take my eyes off the bass  … it looked like an Eminence upright acoustic, but what do I know?

It was one gorgeous instrument. All marled and shiny. With a beautiful sound. And the  guy playing wasn’t bad either! 

Plan to see these guys next time they criss-cross into the area. You’ll enjoy. Would I lie to you?___________________________________________________________

Will McFarlane at The Blue Note Grill

The Blue Note Grill
Second Tuesday in December.  Temps are dropping.  All the more reason to warm up with a sizzling blues jam, right?  Something’s going on inside … you can tell even before you open the door. As if static electricity is in hiding just waitin’ to surprise you with a crackling zing.
We’ve hit the blues jam motherlode!  Will McFarlane is in the house, guitar, kilt and all.   Think you don’t know him?  Ever heard of Bonnie Raitt?  The Pointer Sisters?  Jackson Browne?  Then you’ve heard Will. And for a good while, he’s been right here living quietly among us.
He’s a regular at TBNG and just his presence brings everyone jamming with him up about 30 notches.  All I can do is stand there marveling with TBNG owners Bill and Andrea … something along the lines of “I wonder what the unfortunate people are doing tonight while we get to sit here and listen to this?” 
Music on ShuffleMusic for making gingerbread
Sugar, Sugar (Wilson Pickett)
If (Bread)
Ginger Baker Drum Solo
Stir It Up (Bob Marley)
You Send Me (Sam Cooke)
Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones)
Foodimentary:   Did I hear correctly that Dec. 20th is National Sangria Day?  Very odd, if I may say so myself. 

Writing + The Salad Lady + Music to Cook By + Amy LaVere + Foodimentary

I might have writer’s block.  Can’t be totally sure yet, but the last few days have produced little.  I’ve stared, almost accusingly, at my keyboard and a partially blank page inviting words to come out and play.  The harder I tried the more things went like this:  I wonder how long that ketchup packet from Burger King has been on my coffee table and, more importantly, where the hell did it come from?  Is that the mailman, ’cause I’m expecting some really good junk mail today with it being the holidays and all.  Wow, the sun hits that prism just right around 3:15 in the afternoon.  How is it that I, a flip-flops and flats girl, can identify Christian Louboutin shoes by their red soles?  Brilliant stuff, right?  Well, maybe the prism reflections are. Right now I’m playing a reward game with myself … eat two pieces of popcorn, type two words.  So far the popcorn is winning … or losing, depending on your perspective … the bowl is dwindling.
While we wait for divine intervention (or the mailman), go listen to my SideDish interview with Suzanne Nelson of Cozi Farm!

I am the salad lady. Not exactly my parent’s career dream for me, but there you have it.  Everyone always asks me to make or bring the salad. Why?  A few years back I stumbled upon THE formula for creating perfect salad every time. At first I was determined to keep the secret to myself so I’d be assured of ongoing dinner party invitations, but in a weak moment I caved in and whispered it conspiratorily to my brother and my sister. So now I’m whispering it to you. Consider it my holiday gift.

Salad Greens – lettuces, arugula, romaine, spring mix, spinach, etc. Pretty much anything except for iceberg, though if that’s all you have then you really should get a subscription to a food magazine.

Fruit or roasted veg – tart apple, pear, orange sections, cranberries, craisins, seedless grapes, mango, cherries, raspberries, beets, Brussels sprouts, etc. 

Nuts or crunchies – almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, sesame sticks

Cheese – bleu cheese, goat, brie, camembert, mozzerella, feta, etc.

Optional:   green onion tips or thinly sliced sweet onion

Dressing:  1 tb mustard (preferably Dijon), 1/2 cup vinegar (white, cider, champagne, white balsamic, fig), salt & pepper.  Whisk together.  Taste. If you like your dressing a little sweeter, sprinkle in a little sugar or add a little honey or maple syrup.  Whisk again.  Add any herbs BEFORE you add the oil.  Drizzle in the oil (olive oil, canola, any mild oil) and whisk until incorporated and the mixture emulsifies (binds and thickens).  KITCHEN TIP:  if you put a damp paper towel under your cutting board and under your mixing bowl neither will dance across your countertop.

Assembly:  Pick one from each category.  Slice the fruit, crumble the nuts/crunchies and cheese and toss with your dressing. Take the bows.

MUSIC TO COOK (or toss a salad) BY:
Brain Salad Surgery (Emerson, Lake & Palmer),  Poke Salad Annie (Tony Joe White),  Ghost of Stephen Foster (The Squirrel Nut Zippers), The Voice of Cheese (Frank Zappa & The Mother’s of Invention), Big Cheese (Nirvana), Blueberry Hill (Fats Domino)___________________________________________

Amy LaVere at The Casbah

Bless Larry’s little music lovin’ heart. Hell, yeah, I want to go hear Amy LaVere at The Casbah in Durham on Tuesday night!  Amy’s been on my wish list for what seems like forever. This is one of those connect-the-dots stories so pay attention … Amy is from Memphis and is on Archer Records which is owned by my old friend Ward Archer who was going to do/be something else in life until he and I tried our hand at recording a jingle or two many long years ago. It was an embarassing attempt that we can laugh about now, but it pointed Ward in a new direction.  Thank God!  

Amy’s ex-boyfriend and drummer is the son of some other old friends from Memphis, Pat Taylor and Susanne Jerome of the 70’s-80’s band, The Breaks. Pat and Susanne were, and still are, two of the most drop-dead gorgeous people to ever draw breath.  They found each other (with a little help from yours truly) and the rest is history.  Still with me here?  

Amy’s new album, Stranger Me, includes a cover of an old Captain Beefheart song Candle Mambo.  Random and obscure, to be sure. But, way back when I worked for the Warner Bros. Artist Development Director, he sent me out to do a few shows around the Southeast with the Captain. We quickly discovered a shared love of art stores, so every town we hit, Don and I would high-tail it to the local art supply store and spend hours admiring and buying rapidographs, colored pencils, brushes, ink, and paper.  Then we’d sit on the bus and sketch.

But I digress …  this is about Amy LaVere, right?

Luminous and enchanting before she even begins to sing, Amy speaks with a lyrical girlish voice that grabs you from the get-go.  And once on stage, you can’t take your eyes off her … how can such a slight little thing manage that huge stand-up bass? Well, she just does.  Bangs on it. Caresses it.  Stares longingly at it. What you are watching is an intimate encounter with a lover … Amy and that bass.  The heartbreaking love songs make you remember every broken heart you ever had when all  you really wanted to do was spend the rest of your life in a corner somewhere curled in a ball weeping.

Simmer2Sizzle rating:  10 stars out of 5 which is why this image is on here twice.   

Check out this NPR interview with Laura Sullivan/All Things Considered.  Then go buy Stranger Me by Amy LaVere. 

FOODIMENTARY:  Today is National Pastry Day!  What to have? What to have?

The Blue Note Grill + Troy Mezze + Pig Wars + The Blue Note Grill + Cooking with Music on Shuffle

First things first.  To Bill, the very handsome and very kind gentleman at the Blue Note Grill last night who gave me his raffle tickets … despite my throwing it out there to the universe to pick one of my numbers, I did not win the guitar 😦  Now I can’t look forward to having you teach me to play, not that you would have been able to, but it sure would have been fun trying.  But I do look forward to coming to watch and listen to you play.  That’s a promise. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself … more about The Blue Note Grill later!

Troy Mezze Sampler

The afternoon started at Troy Mezze Lounge at City Market in Raleigh for a tasting of what can only be described as a true Turkish delight!  There was not one bite that wasn’t on its way to being extraordinary.  And I don’t make a statement like that lightly … it was like there was this huge colorful and fragrant party with alot of personalities going on on this Mezze Platter, a sampler of Hummus, Acili Ezme, Haydari, Shakshouka, Lentil patties kofte,  barbunya plaki and Yaprak Dolmasi. Each carefully placed scoop on that platter was a star on its own … with multi-levels of flavors, colors, and textures. You know how sometimes you aren’t paying attention and mix something together to the point that what went into it becomes unidentifiable?  Well, they know how to NOT do that.  Every flavor stands simply and brightly all by itself. Thank you, Arif!  It’s worth the drive to Raleigh. Cross my heart.

Can you eat fun?  Yes, you can … ‘specially if it’s cooked, chopped and served right away off a smoker just a few yards away.  I take my judging Q seriously and this night was no exception.  Every team offered up admirable and tasty plates of chopped BBQ, but there was one clear winner …. drum roll, please … Big Ed’s! Many thanks for inviting me to be a guest judge along with Charlie Gaddy.

Walking around City Market is a little like stumbling onto a side street somewhere in Europe where you kinda want to just get lost and stay that way in the shops … some exotic and fragrant with incense, others whimsical and artful.

Blues rock guitarist Chaz DePaolo

TBNG was actually a fall back position last night when four of us could not get into to Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse to see Randall Bramblett.  With a slight disappointment we headed north to The Blue Note and mighty glad we are that we did. New Jersey blues rock guitarist Chaz DePaolo brought it and brought it and brought it!  All night long and then some. 



Brown-Eyed Girl (Van Morrison), One Headlight (The Wallflowers), Handle With Care (The Traveling Wilburys),  King’s Highway (Tom Petty),  Sugar Pie (The Subdudes),  Mona (Quicksilver Messenger Service) …

Pig Wars – Tonight at City Market in Raleigh

City Market, Raleigh, NC

I have mail!  Yes, indeed … and it’s piling up after an article Tuesday in the N&O about the upcoming Pig Wars (yep, it’s tonight) at City Market in Raleigh where I’m a guest judge.  Proceeds benefit Easter Seals, so it’s a great cause that also tastes good.

I hope they know that I’m not a “Chapel Hill restaurateur” as I’m described.  I know Chapel Hill restaurants. I love Chapel Hill restaurants. I’ve over-enjoyed myself in many of them, but I don’t now or ever want my own.

So here’s what’s happening tonight:  Historic City Market and Big Ed’s host City Market Pig Wars on Fri., Dec. 2 in downtown Raleigh.  Five professional and non-professional teams will face off in this new First Friday event, which has been designed to attract lovers of great barbecue, live music and a great charitable cause –  Easter Seals UCP.  At 5:30 p.m., official judging by local celebrity and retired WRAL-TV5 news anchor Charlie Gaddy and 1360WCHL SideDish host/Simmer2Sizzle blogger Deborah P. Miller will take place.

After the winner is announced, spectators will have the opportunity to taste the barbecue prepared by all five cook-off teams by purchasing barbecue sandwiches and pints of barbecue cooked up for the event. Live music provided by The Craig Thompson Duo.  

More later!