Category Archives: Food and Wine


Don’t miss the monthly CHOP NC (Culinary Historians of Piedmont) meeting tonight, Wed. 11/16!    Randy Fertel, author of the just-published book The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak: A New Orleans Family Memoir. 7:30pm at Flyleaf Books. ________________________________________________________ WEDNESDAY, 11/9 One … Continue reading

Papa Mojo’s + This & That + Music on Shuffle + Foodimentary

Pagan Hellcats at Papa Mojo's

Friday night a week ago. Fixin’ to rain. Enough chill in the air that a night at Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse seems … well, fittin’ somehow.  Some good old Cajun cookin’ with a lot of smokin’ music along with good friends Robert, Susan, and Adam (who make damn good running buddies, if I may say so myself) had all the makings for a hot night out.   I’d never seen Pagan Hellcats, but with a name like that a person could get expectations, doncha think?  After all, I was the instigator and my reputation was at stake. Would these people ever follow me blindly out into the world of local music again if the band sucked? Not freakin’ likely.   

A bowl of crawfish Étouffée later and as the band set up, my confidence was sitting as pretty as the glazed cornbread on the table.  But, just because I had had a glass of the house Cab, I reminded myself … good-lookin’ musicians and reputable instruments do not a good band make.  Case in point – Hanson. Or Milli Vanilli. Don’t get me started ….

What a wonderful surprise!  Mel even hung around to jam with them.  If you haven’t seen them, go. If you have, go again. GO rediscover these “bluesy, rootsy rockers” … after all, my rep is on the line here.


Chirba Chirba Dumplings

Chirba Chirba! 
What do you get when you have four friends who love to eat and make dumplings? If this was a band, Chela Yu, her dumplingness, would be “the girl singer.”  But since this is a food truck, you get “Chirba Chirba” (translation: Eat, eat!). Chela and the boys, Yin Song, Nate Adams, Ali Safavi, make up the Dumpling Squad. If you’ve missed one of their dumpling raids, tsk, tsk. Now get out there and find them. You will NOT be disappointed.  And listen to my SideDish interview with Chela airing Sunday, 11/27 on 1360WCHL.


Am headed out tonight to Cat’s Cradle with my friend Larry to hear Hayes Carll, a singer/songwriter from Texas.  Know next to nothing about him, so stay tuned.

Music on ShuffleMUSIC ON SHUFFLE

Y’all know you can click on these to watch and listen, right? 

I’ve Got This Friend (The Civil Wars),  Driving North (Chris Pureka), Honey, Honey (Feist),  Lost (Anouk),  Running on Faith (Eric Clapton)




Nov. 8 is National Cappuccino Day! 

Nov. 10 is National Vanilla Cupcake Day … better go warn my favorite folks at Sugarland!!

The Blue Note + Pulphead + SideDish + music on shuffle + Foodimentary

Another great night at The Blue Note Grill!  Three things made it even better.  Number 1.  My old high school friend, Bif, walked in with his guitar. It was a smaller turnout this week which allowed the players to fall into rhythm with each other quicker.  Number 2. I like this place. Owners Andrea & Bill Whittington have this nice way of making you feel like you are hanging out in their living room that just happens to be a bar with lots of drink choices, and if you ask nicely they will bring you some food too. And their wine selection is decent.  Number 3. I kinda fell in love or lust or something like it, but that’s another story entirely, and I don’t know how it turns out yet. Let’s just there were a few stolen “longing gaze” moments that took me entirely and deliciously by surprise.

Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan

Fall of  2008, I stole a magazine. I know.  Not like me at all.  But, I was at my doctor’s office, she kept me waiting too long and I got so engrossed in Unknown Bards, an article in Harper’s by John Jeremiah Sullivan  that I thought of locking the treatment room door so I could finish reading.  It was that good. I feverishly (I often do things feverishly) shared it with my Memphis friends.  Last week, thanks to a Facebook post from a friend, I learned that John Jeremiah Sullivan would be reading from and signing Pulphead, a collection of published essays at Flyleaf Books on Wednesday evening.  You probably don’t know him, probably never heard of him, but you should.  He writes alot about music. With a style that makes you feel like he’s sitting across from you just spinnng a good yarn to entertain you. Upon This Rock, published in GQ in fall of 2009 had me laughing out loud and I felt like I was there on his journey to the Cross-Over Festival (Christian music) in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.  Run to your favorite bookstore and BUY THIS BOOK!  Today.  ps. Sorry, Doc!

Page Skelton/Cackalacky
Funny name. Serious Zest. It’s even written on his business card. Page Skelton is seriously funny AND funnily serious about everything Cackalacky, And he should be. It’s delicious and there’s pretty much no food immune to its addition.  Maybe cake, but give him time.  Everything else is fair game.  Just ask Page and one of his new sidekicks, Greg Hirsh, the Cackalacky Kid.

Music on ShuffleMUSIC ON SHUFFLE:  Ready to Start (Arcade Fire), New Automobile (Eric Bibb), Victory (Trampled By Turtles), When The Word Gets Out (Brandi Shearer), November Blue (The Avett Bros.), Murdered in the City (The Avett Bros.) … wildly random, but isn’t that what shuffle is all about?

FOODIMENTARY:  Today is National Chocolate Day! Let’s see … French Chocolate Truffles, hot chocolate, chocolate-covered bacon? How about all of the above.

Going, going, gone + music on shuffle + foodimentary

Good grief, have you ever had a week fly by so fast that you barely had a chance to gracefully segue from one day to the next?  Me neither.  Actually this was one of those weeks, and I shoulda cloned myself so I could do it all as I ended up having to sacrifice a few things.  But maybe I was just resting up for today … it’s Oktoberfest at Saxapahaw!


Sugarland Bakery

Sugarland Bakery

Had way too much fun on Thursday at WCHL recording two upcoming shows for SideDish.  First up was Sugarland Bakery Czarina Katrina. Ryan, that is, and her new Marketing Coordinator Emily Pierce … and they brought cupcakes!  New flavors!  YUM!  They are going to kill me for not remembering exactly which ones we tasted, but they were unbelievable … Apple Cobbler, Bock Beer, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, one with bacon, and more. Emily, HELP!  Remind us what you brought. 

Page Skelton on SideDish

Page Skelton on SideDish

And then along came Mr. Cackalacky, his own damn self … Page Skelton and Greg Hirsh (the new Cackalacky Kid) … pulling a cooler filled with a warm crockpot full of grilled chicken drummies just floating away pretty as you please in a pool of Cackalacky sauce.  He included the recipe which I’ll link here as soon as I’ve made it into a pdf.  I don’t know what I enjoy most … hearing Page tell stories -or- his finger-lickin’ good sauce.  Ok, both equally. 


The Cave

MUSIC ON SHUFFLE:   What was really shuffling was me … and Larry … off to The Cave to fill our ears.  The Cave (or CavernTavern) is unlike anywhere else you might have ever been.  Something like 40 years worth of stories that place could tell if it could talk. Imagine the beginnings and endings, not to mention the middles. We’re here to hear Lynn Blakey, uno Tres Chicas with a silken voice and an acoustic guitar and singer/songwriter Dave Wilson, Chatham County Line.  I love this place.  Just wish they had good wine. Hell, I wish they had wine at all.  Not much of a beer drinker, I asked if they had any Jack Daniels.  Bartender says “No, but we have Jameson.”   I did my best Scooby Doo head tilt  … I spent too many years in Tennessee to be fooled into Irish whiskey.  I’ll leave it to you to imagine what kind of night it was.  

FOODIMENTARY:  Today is National Nut Day .. so I’m going to head out and do my part to be one 🙂

Saxapahaw OktoberFest + music on shuffle + Foodimentary

I was channel surfing this morning and stumbled across Every Which Way But Loose on REELZ channel.  Yeah, yeah, I know it’s beautiful outside. I can see out my window … but I woke up with a scratchy throat and am still in my pj’s working on my second coffee.  Now, before you bash me for indulging in a little Clint Eastwood and Clyde, the orangutan, listen up … it was NOT about the movie.  Back in a former life working for Elektra/Asylum Records, I was on the road with Eddie Rabbitt who wrote the theme song.  Nostalgia got the better of me and I began to pull vinyl out of my closet remembering the dark-eyed, handsome Irish man with a wicked sense of humor who was a little country and a lot rockabilly.  I miss you, old friend!
Saxapahaw Oktoberfest 2011

Saxapahaw Oktoberfest 2011

Well, I already know where I’ll be next weekend.  I’m sure y’all have caught on to my love affair with Saxapahaw by now. I do tend to go on about a passion, don’t I?  And what would be wrong with that?


Saxapahaw’s Annual Fall Festival takes place on three stages this year, The HayWagon Stage at the Farmers’ Market, the NEW River Amphitheater and The Haw River Ballroom featuring The Onyx Club Boys, The Rye Mountain Boys, Gasoline Stove Diali Cissokho & Kairaba and Birds and Arrows PLUS a Harvest Festival and Market, BBQ and Brews and lots of fun activities for kids! Details to come!

Music on Shuffle

Music on Shuffle

MUSIC ON SHUFFLE:  I Love a Rainy Night (Eddie Rabbit), If I had a Boat (Lyle Lovette),  If I Fall (Dixie Chicks), Silver Wings (Merle Haggard), I Still Miss Someone (Johnny Cash & Joni Mitchell), I am a Lonesome Fugitive (Roy Buchanan) … dco, you are gentle on my mind this morning 😉

Food is Love

Food is Love

Today is National World Food Day!  Thanks, John-Bryan Hopkins.

Dear last night’s dinner guests,
Thank you for being my test subjects for a new cornbread recipe.  Really loved having you all on my back porch! 
Love, the cook
ps.   Shucks y’all … one of my followers sent me this YouTube clip earlier this week in case I’m looking for a new way to shuck corn.  It cracked me up. 

4 planes, 3 airports, 1 great time + music on shuffle + Foodimentary

Full moonrise in Vermont

Full moonrise in Vermont

Vermont is beautiful this time of year. I almost think I could live there until I hear my sister talk about 8 months of cold and snow.  Then again …that would be just too far away from a warm beach.  BUT … being the spa sisters that we are (and we do it really, really well), we headed off to the Topnotch Resort & Spa in Stowe. It may very well be one of my favorite spas anywhere.   Topnotch holds my heart with 3 pools and 3 whirlpools, one with a thundering waterfall. Lunch = Miso Glazed Salmon over greens, cabbage, soba noodles, broccolini, mango, ginger-lime vinaigrette. Sheer heaven. And an 80 degree high that let us be out by the pool all day. I actually got sunburned. In October. In Vermont. 

Driving the back roads through mountains and valleys was astonishing. First, realizing that entire towns and valleys were as much as 21 feet under water just a month ago … and second, that this progressive, stock-hardy state polarized and rallied back in time to clean-up and welcome what accounts for some 40% of its annual tourism income … the leaf peepers.

Sam Guarnaccia

Sam Guarnaccia

Another highlight was an evening around my sister’s backyard fire pit with gourmet s’mores and meeting Sam Guarnaccia, composer of the Celtic Mass for Peace. I’d love to see this performed in Chapel Hill. Can y’all help me work on that?

Remind me to tell you my theory on the great flip-flop plot. Blame it on the campfire and the full moon.

Don’t miss my SideDish interview with Jimmy Reale, Executive Chef at Carolina Crossroads at The Carolina Inn!

FOODIMENTARY:  Today is National Peanut Festival Day AND National Yorkshire Pudding Day.  Thanks, John-Bryan Hopkins/Foodimentary Guy!

 More later … I gotta run interview Fullsteam Brewery’s Chief Executive Optimist, Sean Lilly Wilson for SideDish.

8:05 (Moby Grape)
Mr. Tambourine Man (The Byrds)
I Got a Line on You (Spirit)
End of the Line (The Traveling Wilburys)
I’m in Love with a Girl (Big Star)

Blue Note Grill + Playing the Blues + Foodimentary

Blue Note Grill

Blue Note Grill - Durham

I’ve obviously been living under a big rock, and apparently not one that had much roll to it.  Discovered yet another new (new to me, anyway) place to listen to music last night … The Blue Note Grill in Durham.  It would be easy to miss, tucked as it is in a little strip called the Boulevard Plaza Shopping Center on 15-501.  (I still call 15-501 “the Boulevard,” by the way.)  Every  Tuesday night is their Open Blues Jam with Butch Haas (aka Mr. Mudbones), a harp player who manages a rotating collection of players who show up each week wanting nothing more than to play the blues.   Couple of standouts -> a kid who couldn’t have been more than about 10. Sadly, didn’t catch his name. And local guitarist Tommy Hartley.  Like I said, under a rock, but now that I’m out …

I was on a fix-up, and as first dates go, it was a blast!  Perfect pick, Larry.  Can’t really comment on food, we waited too late to order from the regular menu. But they had a couple of nice wine-by-the-glass selections.  Way to go, guys.  Even foodies love the blues.

Playing the Blues:   Got My Mojo Working (Muddy Waters), Born Under a Bad Sign (Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughn), The Thrill is Gone (B.B. King & Eric Clapton),  Stormy Monday (Allman Bros. with Eric Clapton, etc, etc, etc.

FOODIMENTARY:  October 5 is National Apple Betty Day and according to The Meat House is also National Do Something Nice Day!

Foodimentary + music on shuffle + checking in from …

Foodimentary*:  It’s National Mulled Cider Day.  So who the heck picks these days anyway, I wanna know?  Even rabid googling didn’t come up with an answer.  Anybody know?  Anybody care? 

Let the Music Play:  Fall on Me (R.E.M), Rose of Cimmaron (Poco), Sampson (Regina Spektor), Fire in the Canyon (Fountains of Wayne), Guaranteed to Win (Heartwood), Steal Your Love (Lucinda Williams), Dark End of the Street (Flying Burrito Bros.) …

The Station, Carrboro, NC

The Station, Carrboro, NC

Checking in last night from …  The Station (yes, again).  11-ish.  Just getting the hang of this Facebook “check in” app … surely everybody must be dying to know where I am, right?  Suddenly across a crowded room … our eyes meet.  Love at first sight.  Wait, I know why it’s immediate love. I know these people moving across the room toward me. It’s Christine & Sara!  Come to rescue me from myself after seeing my “check in.”  Thanks, y’all, but you’re going to have to do a much better job next time 🙂  Send me home much, much, much earlier, ya’ hear?   Did you know that there are some right weird people out in the middle of the night?  And I’m not talking about us.  Ok, maybe a little.  

 *Thanks John-Bryan Hopkins, The Foodimentary Guy

It was a dark and stormy night … and day, continued

Friday night/TerraVITA:


The Carolina Table: East Meets West under a ginormous white tent. With chandeliers … jumping the cool factor a couple of notches. Daniel Wallace introducing 27 Views of Chapel Hill: A Southern University Town in Prose & Poetry. Family-style dining prepared by the likes of Stephen Ribustello from On The Square (Tarboro) and Jacob Sessoms from Table (Asheville). Plus food artisans from the Piedmont – Chapel Hill Creamery, Farmer’s Daughter, Big Spoon Roasters and Carrboro Coffee Roasters. Ending with dessert from Jael & Dan Rattigan from French Broad Chocolate Lounge and a Working Man’s Lunch beer, a MoonPie-inspired beer brewed with Escazu chocolate from Full Steam Brewery. I don’t even like beer, but I loved this. Especially when it’s handed to you by the irrepressibly handsome Sean Lilly Wilson. Oops, did that sound sexist?  Really?  Guilty as charged.  Something about MoonPies and good lookin’ men in the same sentence … well, I won’t go there.  And did I mention wine? Oh, yeah, there was wine! Perfectly paired.

Saturday:  TerraVITA’s Colleen Minton and her staff really outdid themselves this year. The Sustainable Classroom sessions on Saturday morning were perfect in length. I was especially proud of Mary Margaret McCamic! She was a colleague at A Southern Season, and a wine expert in her own right as an instructor at The Chef’s Academy in Morrisville. There wasn’t a single snob factor in the room … oh, wait … there was that one guy who decided to announce that terrior didn’t really exist.  Now that was a moment. And there was the girl who had the dropsies … first her wine, then everything she had with her.  I know, I know, I shouldn’t talk … after all, I was the one who accidentally tipped the glass of red wine all over my leg.  Eau de Pinot. I might be on to something.

Great fun!  Wonderful nibbles prepared by chefs who love what they do. Wine in abundance.  Shared with comrades-in-arms.  Kudos, Colleen and team!!

It was a dark and stormy night …

Spirits of Just Men - Charles D. Thompson, Jr.

Spirits of Just Men - Charles D. Thompson, Jr.

… no, really … I’m serious. It all started last Wednesday night and if you live in Chapel Hill, you know it was raining cats and dogs (or as a friend from Greece once said “it’s raining chair legs.”) But let’s not follow idiomatic expressions just yet.

Wednesday evening was the monthly CHOP (Culinary Historians of Piedmont) meeting and we were expecting Charles Thompson, author of Spirits of Just Men, a history of moonshine in 1930’s Franklin Country, VA as our speaker. Maybe ten of us braved the deluge, including Charlie.  You could feel his connection with what was for him a relatively new-found understanding of a community where  moonshine was the livelihood … whether it was the making of, the supplying of ingredients, or the running. It touched everyone. Even the children.

As you might guess, you can’t really talk about food on an empty tummy, and who would want to anyway?  Members are encouraged to bring dishes to share and this Noah’s-ark-of-a-night brought out dill deviled eggs, potato pizza, pepper jelly, and Krispy Kreme bread pudding (with extra sugar drizzle, ’cause God knows you just can’t put too much sugar on a donut).  Comfort food for a new group growing more comfortable with one another with each bite and each meeting. Wonder what Charlie thought of us!

Carolina Crossroads at The Carolina Inn - Jimmy Reale, Executive Chef

Carolina Crossroads at The Carolina Inn - Jimmy Reale, Executive Chef

Thursday evening found me joining another group of relative strangers (though not for long) at a Fall menu preview at Carolina Crossroads Restaurant at The Carolina Inn … all lovingly prepared and presented by Executive Chef Jimmy Reale.

Sharing this table with me were Suzanne Brown (NC Dept. of Tourism), Susan Reda (Susan Reda Productions), Elizabeth Peck (free-lance writer/Signature Tastes of Charlotte/Smoke Alarm Media), Martin Armes (PR, Marketing & Communications), Jonathan Campbell (Director of Food & Beverage at the Carolina Inn) and Jack Schmidt (Director of Sales and Marketing at the Carolina Inn).

All eight courses (yes, I just typed eight) are inspired creations reflecting Chef Reale’s respectful use of local organic and sustainable products. My personal favorite – Housemade Lamb Sausage & Sweet Potato Hash, Mini-Pita, Bacon Jam, Sunny Side Latta Farm Egg, with a Pink Peppercorn Maple Syrup.  I think my eyes rolled back in my head with each bite. My only suggestion?  That it find it’s way onto the breakfast menu too! 

Carrboro Coffee Company

Carrboro Coffee Company

Sure I’d never want to eat again (yeah, right), I had barely enough time to recover before the anticipated TerraVITA Food & Wine Event at Southern Village. Friday was a planned farm tour for media and it was already spitting rain when we all met up at Open Eye Cafe in Carrboro for a freshly brewed cup and visit with Carrboro Coffee Company’s Scott Conary and Mark Leatherwood.

Glory the Greeter @ Chapel Hill Creamery

Glory the Greeter @ Chapel Hill Creamery

Armed with caffeine and umbrellas against threatening heavy, rain-laden clouds on the verge of bursting, we headed to Chapel Hill Creamery where we were met by the big, warm, brown eyes of Glory, one of their Jersey’s. Owners Flo Hawley and Portia McKnight shared stories and cheese under a tin-roofed shelter while rain drops fell around us.  Rain makes you hungry. I now know that. 

Peregrine Farm

Peregrine Farm

Second up was Peregrine Farm, home to Alex & Betsy Hitt, regulars at the Carrboro Farmers Market where they are well-known with their fruit, vegetables and hand-cut flowers. I’m guessing there’s a handbook somewhere that requires everybody who lives in the country to have at least one tin-roofed shelter. Not at all a bad way to spend a morning. The harder it rained, the hungrier we got and Betsy & Alex’s kitchen was THE place for lunch catered by Neal’s Deli. Way to go, Matt & Sheila, you know I’m a fan.

Third stop was to have been Cozi Farm, but rain decided differently. Suzanne Nelson, owner of Cozi Farm, met us at the Saxapahaw General Store (and you already know how I feel about that :).  I’m going to directly quote Suzanne, because no matter how hard I try, I surely couldn’t say it any better than she does … “Cozi farm is a diversified, thriving polyculture where animals are treated with reverence and grace, earthworms are cherished, and all critters eat a species-appropriate diet.”  Cozi is one of the only farms in the state selling eggs, chicken, turkey and pork raised with organic locally milled feed. You gotta just love someone who cherishes earthworms!

The Eddy Pub and Restaurant

The Eddy Pub and Restaurant

You can’t make a stop at Saxapahaw without another peek inside The Eddy and The Haw River Ballroom!  NOTE TO SELF:  I am not obsessed with this place. I am not obsessed with this place. I am not obsessed with this place. 100 times on the blackboard.  Ok, maybe I am right now, but you really can’t blame me. THEY built it.  Plus, I’m knowing that I’m coming back out here Sunday night to see Spirit Family Reunion.

Soooo … I’m not even close to being done yet, but I have to go check out what Teresa is doing in my front yard.  We (well, not exactly me, but I did buy the stone) are creating a new walkway using Tennessee Fieldstone.  

And I haven’t even gotten to Saturday yet, much less Sunday night where there’s definitely a story or two worth repeating 🙂 Y’all stay tuned. I’ll be right back.