in the limelight
Local food writer and TV personality Fanny Slater talks on Food Network
Hospitality Management LMRest.com
2 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
10-12 | Cape Fear Seafood Co. prepares the
freshest seafood dishes in town, including mussels. Read about what restaurateur Evans Trawick says about the load of overseeing two, almost three, eateries in the Port City.
EDITOR Shea Carver
ASSISTANT EDITOR Shannon Rae Gentry
ART DIRECTOR Susie Riddle
ADVERTISING Shea Carver, Tiffany Wagner, John Hitt
CONTRIBUTORS Gwenyfar Rohler, Joel Finsel, John Burke, Allison Ballard, Fanny Slater, Emily Caulfield, Bethany Turner, Evan Folds, Linda Grattafiori
PHOTOGRAPHY Lindsey A. Miller Photography
Lindsey A. Miller Photography
ON THE COVER 18-20 |
Fanny Slater writes for numerous publications in town, including yours truly and our sister pub, encore. She also has a cooking segment on WWAY and her own cookbook to boot. Now, she’s adding “national food show host” to her résumé, as Slater has landed a cohosting gig on Food Network’s “Kitchen Sink.” Read our interview with her on pages 18-20.
DEVOUR is published by HP Media seasonally and covers southeastern NC. To subscribe to the print publication, the cost is $15 a year. Folks can sign up to subscribe in print or monthly via e-mail updates at www.devourilm.com. ADVERTISING in Devour is easy! Feel free to call HP Media at 910-791-0688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a media kit. HP Media also offers advertising packages for Devour and its other publications, encore and AdPak.
4-7 CHEF PROFILES
One is a new chef at Pine Valley Market and the other is a pastry chef for the Circa Restaurant Group. Read Allison Ballard’s interviews with two of our Port City’s knowledgable culinarians.
Blogger Emily Caulfield takes us on a food journey across the world, from Greece to Asia to America. Try out her latest batch of recipes.
Chris McCauley and Amanda Corbett Short ribs, ice cream sandwiches!
14-16 FARMING Tilling with Frankie Pridgen Pridgen’s Farm provides hearty vegetables at the local farmers’ market, as well as to top eateries across town.
34-35 BOOK REVIEWS A Bite of Home Gwenyfar Rohler noshes on Southern cuisine from “The Carolina Table” and tries out French techniques in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in the winter 2017 round of book reviews.
Cocktails and Conversations, pgs. 24-25 • Wrightsville Beach Brewery, pgs. 26-28 Wine, pg. 30 • Science of Gardening, pgs. 32-33 • Culinary Calendar, pgs. 36-39 WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 3
Inside the Kitchen Getting to know local chef Chris McCauley and pastry chef Amanda Corbett BY Allison Ballard ● Devour contributor
o one claims working in a kitchen is easy. Those who do it, and excel at it, are typically driven by a passion for food and creativity. That may be especially true for these chefs, whose duties require them to juggle multiple cooking responsibilities, all for the pleasure of local eaters.
Chef at Pine Valley Market 3520 S. College Rd. • (910) 350-3663 www.pinevalleymarket.com After more than a decade as a chef, Chris McCauley says he has refined his culinary philosophy. Like many in the business, he got an early start by working in restaurants before it was technically legal for him to do so. He moved on to fine-dining restaurants and had a chance to work with accomplished restaurateurs and influential regional chefs. “I was able to have a lot of really great experiences at a young age,” he says. And as he’s matured, his new focus is uncomplicated fare. “Right now, I just want to make good, clean, simple, honest food.” It’s probably one of the reasons he’s been a good fit at Wilmington’s Pine Valley Market, the local multipurpose eatery now celebrating 20 years in business. Christi Ferretti and Kathy WebbFerretti have owned it for 15 years.
• Right: Chris McCauley is the head chef at Pine Valley Market. Photo by Lindsey A. Miller Photography
4 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
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INDUSTRY “They, and I, have really high standards,” McCauley praises. Plus, they have a desire to fulfill many local foodie needs. McCauley started working at PVM about two years ago, as a cochef with Smoky Masters. McCauley took over the executive chef position a year ago. “I come in to work, and it’s about figuring out where we are,” he says. “We might have two catering jobs and four of the five divisions of the market need something.” In addition to providing corporate and private catering for events, from weddings to dinner parties, the market has several ways to feed those who are hungry for good food. On one recent visit, the freezer-meal section had 18 varieties of casseroles and dishes for stocking at home. There’s also the full-service meat counter and a grab-and-go section for quicker meals, which is usually supplied with dishes like homemade meatballs, twice-baked potatoes and prepared salads. The market serves lunch and breakfast with a menu that changes three or four times a year. “We like to always re-evaluate and make things more seasonal,” McCauley tells. “And I think right now, breakfast is our best-kept secret.” Specials include dishes like real corned-beef hash, eggs Benedict and oatmeal pancakes. “I would say 99 percent of all of these things are made in-house,” he says. McCauley and the staff at PVM carefully prepare each tiny tomato pie for catering events or every individual pan of peach cobbler to sell in the store. Over the years, the menu at Pine Valley Market has grown from an amalgamation of influences. It includes items of popularity from their beginnings—like the beloved chicken and rice—and those that reflect Ferretti’s Italian heritage. McCauley says he’s added more Southern and regional fare since joining the crew. “I would also say I like to do dishes with Asian influences,” he explains, a result of his previous experiences, which last included working with Peabody Award winner Vivian Howard (known for her show “A Chef’s Life” on PBS, featuring the inner workings of her Kinston, NC, restaurants Chef and the Farmer and The Boiler Room). As well McCauley has engaged his competitive streak in local cooking competitions. He was the youngest chef to win at the Beaufort Wine & Food festival. Just last year, he and his team placed second in the local Fire on the Dock competition. “I have to wear multiple hats,” McCauley continues. “Working at the market has helped my ability to multitask and see the bigger picture.” Although the different aspects of the business ebb and flow during the year—freezer meals and soup are big during the winter months, for example, and the meat counter is a summer staple for local grillers—they do sometimes converge. During the holidays, everything is busy. “What I’ve learned is you have to be organized,” McCauley states. That happens to be a skill he’s seen from Ferretti first hand, who is a natural at logistics and who wants her staff to be a tight-knit family. McCauley, meanwhile, has added enthusiasm, professionalism and creativity to the mix, according to Ferretti. He gets to add his own vision to the already adored tried-and-true dishes the market serves. He loves writing menus and devising imaginative items for clients. 6 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
“At first, I could tell maybe they were a little hesitant,” he notes. Regular clients have learned they can count on McCauley to add interest to their even—like with an appetizer wrapped in a cilantro cotton candy. “And one of the great things about this is it’s always something different,” he promises. One week he might be concocting a tasting menu for 15 people and the next, planning an intimate dinner for four.
Pastry chef for Circa Restaurant Group 8 N. Front St. • (910) 762-1922 www.circa1922.com Desserts weren’t necessarily Amanda Corbett’s passion when she attended the culinary program at Cape Fear Community College. It started to change after a pastry class and when she started making wedding cakes for friends. “It was something I just loved to do,” Corbett notes. “I love the decorating process.” After graduation, she worked at a handful of jobs before she became a chef and pizza maker at Osteria Cicchetti for owner Ash Aziz. That was nine years ago. It’s now been several months since she’s taken on a new role of pastry chef for all of the eateries in Aziz’s Circa Restaurant Group. In a typical day, Corbett will finish making gelatos and sorbets—including a special flavor of the day, like raspberry and cream—all while setting out trays of mango and orange pâte de fruit, a French-gelled candy, served on cheese plates at some of the five different restaurants. Doing the little extra bit takes planning and preparation on her part—especially when engaging in the three-day process for one of the most popular desserts, Coconut Sushi. Her workspace is lined with bins of chocolates and sugars, and containers filled with hotfudge and caramel sauces, which she makes in large batches. In listening to the description of her work, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed on her behalf. “It’s not that big a deal,” she says. But her notebook of recipes and components tells a different story. For Corbett Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually her prep days. She makes stock, figures out the basics, and preps foundation ingredients on which her desserts are built. One of her busiest days is Wednesday. At the end of each shift at the restaurants, chefs and managers will e-mail her with their order lists. Many come in late on Tuesdays, so she spends most of Wednesday making them. One recent Wednesday, she had 18 desserts on her list, including a seven-layer Colossal Chocolate Cake, profiteroles, Black and White Cake, bread puddings, and mini desserts. “I would say most of them have four or five parts,” she tells. The Bananas Foster at Boca Bay, for example, includes a dark rum sauce, banana bread made with brûléed bananas, candied walnuts, and banana ice cream. Corbett makes each piece so chefs at the restaurants can assemble them on site. In addition to the dessert orders, she might make batches of mousse, several ice cream flavors, truffles, and tiny cookies and other garnishes. On Saturdays she and the assistant pastry chef focus on brunch, by making croissants, cinnamon rolls, and a variety of other breads and pastries. “We usually always have a special, too,” she explains. Maybe a spinach-and-cheese roll, for example, or glazed lemonstar Danish. The three mixers at her kitchen usually run at once. And the
• Above: Amanda Corbett is the pastry chef for the Circa Restaurant Group, which oversees five local restaurants. Photo by Lindsey A. Miller Photography
cooling racks and ovens at her home base at Osteria Cicchetti on Military Cutoff see heavy use. Corbett likes to cook and bake at home, too. “But it is so much easier here” she claims. Even with a schedule full of making some of the area’s favorite sweet treats, Corbett still has time to experiment. She already has a new favorite for the year: a S’mores Cake she made for a New Year’s Eve menu. The dish was inspired by a candy Aziz brought to Corbett with the request to build a dessert around it. She’s also added at least one gluten-free dessert at each location, including the Peanut Butter Cake, with layers of peanut butter mousse, chocolate ganache, roasted peanuts, and caramel sauce. She tries to balance the dessert offerings at each place, making sure a diversity of flavors and textures are represented. “Ash is really great about letting me try my crazy ideas,” she praises. If they work, they usually stick around for a while. She often visits the other restaurants on a regular basis to review what was most popular each season. Corbett’s schedule means she hasn’t been baking as many wedding cakes (although she’ll be making her own later this year), but desserts have become her life. “I love playing around with recipes,” she says, “thinking about why they work or don’t work. I love troubleshooting problems.”
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WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 7
PORT CITY FOOD LOVERS,
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A Taste of Award-Winning Seafood VOTED BEST SEAFOOD BY ENCORE, STAR NEWS AND WILMINGTON MAGAZINE READERS!
WITH THREE LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOU... Monkey Junction 5226 S. College Road Suite 5 Wilmington, NC 28412 910-799-7077 Porters Neck 140 Hays Lane #140 Wilmington, NC 28411 910-681-1140 Coming Spring 2017 — Waterford 143 Poole Road Leland, NC 28451
8 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
Busy in Business: Local restaurateurs talk about taking on multiple locations BY Shannon Rae Gentry ● Devour assistant editor When restaurateurs open a new business, most are focused on simply making it through the first or second year. Once momentum builds, maybe the owner/chef/manager/ bartender/anything-else-they-need-to-be eventually can start cutting down their hours from 60 to 40 a week … maybe. Then there are those who actually open a second, third or even fourth location. Well, readers, meet a few industrious individuals who are right here in the Cape Fear, throwing all their energy into feeding the masses and loving every minute of it. ● The Clemons family run three Hibachi To Go restaurants from Hampstead to Wilmington. Photo by Lindsey A. Miller Photography 10 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
INDUSTRY Evans Trawick
Cape Fear Seafood Company 5226 S. College Rd. #5, Monkey Junction • 910-799-7077 140 Hays Lane Unit 140, Porters Neck • 910-681-1140 www.capefearseafoodcompany.com
For almost a decade, Cape Fear Seafood Company has been serving up fresh catches at their Monkey Junction location. They’ve won multiple awards, including encore’s Best Seafood and StarNews’ Shore Picks. Their reputation precedes them, and they’ve continued to gain popularity from word-of-mouth and serving good food. “It speaks volumes for the strength of our business,” owner Evans Trawick says, as we sit down in his Porters Neck restaurant. Like the space, Trawick gives a calm, friendly vibe as we chat at a table in the bright and open dining room. “We’re not just about tourists; we’re a locals’ business. I mean, we have an awful lot of tourists come through as well, but we’re here every day, all year for the locals.” When Trawick opened his second spot, he hoped for half the business the original locale did in the first year. However, it’s exceeded his expectations since opening in November 2015. “I set really low expectations, generally,” he quips. “Sometimes people in business get overly optimistic and then they’re disappointed. I would rather be overly pessimistic and then be pleasantly surprised. . . . In reality we’re gonna do about the same amount of business that Monkey Junction does—that’s significant.” Trawick always wanted Cape Fear Seafood Company (CFSC) to grow beyond its first home in Monkey Junction. He had Porters Neck in mind—16 miles away from the original CFSC in Monkey Junction. He didn’t want to lure away regulars from areas like Landfall, Porters Neck, and Topsail. “I just assumed we’d see a sales dip [at Monkey Junction],” he tells. “But we were always at capacity there, so even if we took some customers away, there was always somebody standing in line behind them. . . . [Porters Neck] is really a completely different market from [the flagship] store.” Cape Fear Seafood’s core menu is the same at both locations. While each site has its own set of daily specials, such as a catchof-the-day, soups and chowders, for the most part, Trawick wants customers to have the same experience wherever they go. “If you love shrimp and grits and you go to Monkey Junction, and that’s the best shrimp and grits you’ve ever eaten, I want you to come to Porters Neck and find it is also the best shrimp and grits you’ve ever eaten,” he says. “Consistency is huge for us.” With his wife Nikki and two small children, the youngest born with a heart defect, Trawick’s growing family helped him move forward with his expansion plans in ways. It also helped him back away from some of the responsibilities he didn’t necessarily need to oversee anymore. “You hear the expression, ‘Can’t see the forest for the trees,’ all the time,” he tells.
“Well, that’s what it’s like with a business; when you’re just doing the day-to-day grind, it’s really hard to peek your head out and see the bigger picture. I was forced to hire chefs and managers.” While Trawick goes back and forth between restaurants, and is currently in the planning stages of a third in Leland, he’s been able to rely on a quality staff. As with most new businesses, perhaps especially with restaurants, Trawick admits the early years were a struggle. He was the chef for several years and continued to take the reins in the kitchen periodically; however, Trawick is now most comfortable out of the kitchen. “It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of hours, a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” he lists. “But now the company has grown large enough to where I have great staff at all levels. We’ve got great line cooks, we’ve got great chefs at both restaurants—very creative guys but also good on consistency and quality that they put out on a daily basis—and management as well. It really comes back to those guys.” Ricky Martin, who helped open Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, cooperates the Monkey Junction kitchen with Chris Estelle, who has experience with Cajun and Asian cooking. Matt Wivell, formerly of Oceanic and Bluewater restaurants, is the head chef at Porters Neck. “So we’ve got some experience all the way around,” Trawick adds. “A lot of what I do now is that side of the business: working with vendors and suppliers to make sure we have enough product.” Between both restaurants, Trawick estimates they go through 300 pounds or more fresh fish each week—a number that excludes shrimp, scallops and oysters. Trawick’s main seafood purveyor includes Steve Strause of Steve’s Seafood in Brunswick County, who provides the majority of CFSC’s fin fish. “We’re always trying to balance good quality and price,” he says. “I would say seafood is one of the toughest submarkets of restaurants; you’re always dealing with supply issues. There’s an oil spill in the Gulf or there’s a hurricane off of the East Coast. There’s always something that seems to affect supply or price or both. It’s a constant battle, especially as we’ve grown.” In fact, CFSC gets fresh fish delivered five or six days a week. Oysters and the like come in three times a week. They generally keep enough on hand for a day and a half to ensure fresh seafood is served at every table.
● Cape Fear Seafood Company’s scallops, risotto and asparagus are one of many popular items from their menu. Photo by Lindsey A.
WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 11
INDUSTRY Trawick, originally from Pender County, wanted to open his original 2,300-square-foot restaurant because he saw seafood as a niche market at the time. He envisioned filling a need for a seafood dining that went beyond Calabash and was at first geared more toward fine dining. “I think Cape Fear Seafood Company is now upscale-casual dining,” he describes. “We’re not the chains, but you can come in here in shorts and a T-shirt, and we’re not going to look at you funny either. Business is about your customers, and I think people in the restaurant business tend to forget that sometimes and just do what they want to do. They have a vision when the reality is, you pay your bills and continue to grow.” They’ve kept some successful concepts from early on, while also offering made-to-order Calabash-style favorites. “It’s not like going to the fish house when you were a kid, and they fry up a bunch of shrimp and flounder and put it under a heat lamp,” Trawick continues. “We do large parties here, where one person is having fish and chips, another is having filet, and another is having our special—which is typically a high-end fish dish. We have a very diverse menu and we appeal to a large group of people.” Trawick hopes to open his third Cape Fear Seafood Company site in Leland’s Waterford area in May of 2017. Like its predecessors, it will have a familiar menu but also include new and different specials unique to the location.
Scott and Shari Clemons Hibachi To Go 15248 Highway 17 N., Hampstead • 910-270-9200 6932 Market St., Ogden • 910-791-7800 894 S. Kerr Ave., Crossroads Plaza • 910-833-8841 www.hibachitogo.com
Owners Scott and Shari Clemons first opened their 600-squarefoot Hibachi To Go in Hampstead in 2011. It wasn’t long before they opened their second Ogden locale on Market Street in 2012. Their latest midtown location at Crossroads Center is still in its first year of operation. Formerly an ink-cartridge store, the Clemons completely redesigned the inside of their Crossroads Center space with sleek and modern decor. Light-weight wooden tabletops and metal chairs from East Coast Chair and Barstool—also used by Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible”—fill the dining area. “We knew we wanted a counter up in the front of the window looking out,” Shari explains of the new space. “We did a lot of carpentry work with our friend Billy [Collins]; I just found a lot on Pinterest and said ‘can you build this?’” Makeover notwithstanding, the Clemons know it’s not likely folks will come to their restaurants for an anniversary dinner or “fancy night out.” And they’re OK with that. “We’re not at that level of ‘pretty food’ thing,” Scott says. “We’re just inexpensive, fresh and cooked to order.” “We know who we are,” Shari adds, “and our competition is us.” Like many homegrown-small businesses, the Clemons have made theirs a family affair. All three of their children are now old enough to run a restaurant by themselves … and they essentially
12 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
● Cape Fear Seafood Co. owner Evans Trawick. Photo by Lindsey A. Miller Photography
do. Emmy, 24, mans the Ogden HTG. Jacob, 20, helps his dad run the newest midtown kitchen. Though Abi, 22, is still finishing up college at East Carolina University, she continues to help out whenever she’s in town. “We should have done a sitcom,” Scott quips of the first years in Hampstead. “Because there’s five us and we’re all chiefs and no Indians. So, five of us in a 600-square-foot building, and busy … it was very interesting.” The Clemons have long-term employees who are more like family at this stage. “Justin Gains has been one of our cooks almost since the beginning,” Shari recalls. “This is a family business,” Scott quickly reaffirms. Hibachi To Go’s staff mostly consists of high-school and collegelevel students. “We hire these kids and teach them how to use a knife, how to work in the kitchen, how to handle money, talk to guests, wait on tables … here, you learn and do everything. And they work hard.” Scott and Shari have been married for 25 years, and even with the last six of them spent as co-owners of three restaurants, they agree their dynamic hasn’t changed much—if at all. The real difference comes with the amount of time spent at each location. Having more than one restaurant, Shari says, may actually make running them easier on the couple. They’re able to take the lead at their own locale. “We let each other do what our strengths are,” she adds. Yet, from maintaining the landscape to manning the drive-thru to cooking items to order, their hands are literally and figuratively in everything. “I think you have to be,” Shari says. “I think it gets you that level of respect from your employees—I’m not going to ask them to do something I wouldn’t . . . and you have to fill in if someone’s ill.” Despite common assumptions about the stresses of operating a restaurant (and multiple ones to boot), the Clemons say it’s not nearly the weight of past careers. Shari met Scott while he was working in fine-dining in Tampa, Florida. “Then I got out because of the hours and we had three kids,” Scott says. When they first moved their brood to Lenoir, North Carolina, they each had career shifts: Scott went into mortgage management and Shari acquired her real-estate license. They came to Wilmington after deciding to
INDUSTRY move back to the coast. “Sometimes what you think you want to do changes,” Shari muses. “You’re ever-changing, right?” They didn’t move from the mountains with opening a restaurant in mind. However, when the Clemons were ready for another career chapter, Shari remembered one drive-thru hibachi restaurant they loved in Lenoir. “I was messing around online and I saw the space in Hampstead was for rent,” she remembers. “I thought, This would make a great drive-thru hibachi.” The original Hibachi To Go features a drive-thru and take-out only, while Ogden offers on-site seating as well. The new midtown location features both in-house seating and a drive-thru, plus a large grab-n-go cooler stocked with salads, sushi and desserts. What Shari always loved about the Hibachi To Go concept is getting a complete meal fast and without breaking the bank. For their restaurants, the Clemons just want to be in people’s take-out “rotation.” “We also feel because we’re cooking from scratch, we’re definitely going to make it,” Shari says of their menu items. “It just elevates the food.” Though each locale is exceptionally quick, everything is cooked to order. Using their steam table they make small batches of their meats (which are marinated for at least 24 hours) and veggie meals. “That also enables us to meet dietary restrictions for people,” Shari adds. “If you are gluten-intolerant or anything like that we can accommodate—all you have to do is speak up. Our Kikkoman is naturally brewed, and if you’re gluten intolerant, you can have it. Also, our rice is the only thing processed from where we order it.” While they have a special purveyor who comes into town about once a month with Oriental goods, they source U.S. Foods and Carolina Farmin’ for fresh vegetables, as well as seafood from Atlantic Seafood in Hampstead. “We hand-trim all of our steak and chicken, and we peel our shrimp by hand,” Shari continues. “I don’t think a lot of people realize when you get frozen peeled shrimp in a bag, it can be chemical peeling; someone didn’t peel it for you.” The Clemons developed their recipes by trial and error. Shari says their homemade white sauce was the hardest. They went through about eight variations before getting it right. “A lot of restaurants I know buy [white sauce] premade,” she
observes. “There’s a lot of steps to it with about 12 ingredients . . . a lot of people use ketchup and we don’t. We try to stay as fresh as possible. We get our [red hue] color from paprika and a bit of tomato paste.” Shari also hand makes an unexpected sweet treat for their Hibachi To Go counter: cheesecakes. Blueberry, strawberry, peanutbutter cup, Key lime, and Oreo are a few. Their cheesecakes became so popular by the holidays, people were asking how much to buy them whole. “We’ve done red-velvet cupcakes and we always have chocolate-chip cookies,” she adds. “There are banana spring rolls, too, which come with bananas, cinnamon and butter, all rolled up and homemade chocolate sauce.” Hampstead’s HTG still has the most limited menu because of space. Ogden and midtown have much more room for creativity in the kitchen. Midtown, for example, has the sweet-and-spicy chicken daily, while it remains a lunch special saved for Thursdays in Hampstead. While Shari’s go-to hibachi is steak, she cites the vegetable meal a must-try. “We sell a ton of [vegetable hibachi] in Hampstead,” she observes. “And our food’s a value. We’re not focused on making money on every plate we sell, it’s more about volume.” With $4.99 rotating lunch specials from Monday through Friday, Shari and Scott thought they’d have mostly UNCW students and employees making up their clientele. “But about 80 percent of our business is the community behind us,” she gestures out to surrounding neighborhoods. “They really haven’t caught onto the drive-thru yet, but it’s awesome—especially when it’s colder. You can call and just drive right through and get your food.”
● Hibachi To Go’s chicken and vegetable platter equals fresh, clean food on the fly. Photo by Lindsey A. Miller Photography
“We pride ourselves in offering
Quality Seafood at Reasonable Prices” fast Break t f Buf e y Da Every
• Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner • Dine In or Take Out
Hours: Monday - Saturday 6:30am - 9:00pm • Sunday 6:30am - 3:00pm
6309 Market Street, Wilmington 910.769.2018
WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 13
Sweetness of Mother Nature: Vendors and restaurateurs stay connected to the source BY Linda Grattafiori ● Devour contributor
“How long have you been farming?” I ask Frankie Pridgen first. “All of my life!” he replies excitedly. “Moved from my parents’ brick house down on the corner of the highway and Poplar Branch to 7 acres up the road here. Only move I’ve ever made. I remember my grandparents putting okra on the train at Rocky Point to sell in New York City!” ● Above: Frankie Pridgen shows off his sprouting seedlings, which will become lush vegetables to sell at the Riverfront Farmers’ Market when it opens in April.
● Right page: Franki Pridgen tills the land of his farm. Photos by Lindsey A. Miller Photography 14 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
INDUSTRY One of the original vendors at the Wilmington Riverfront Farmers’ Market and a former board member, Pridgen follows organic standards in growing a wide spectrum of vegetables and grapes on his Rocky Point farm. Family and friends, including his mother, daughter Ashtyn, girlfriend Deven Boyles, and seasonal workers help him with the harvest. He sells his produce to a number of fine restaurants, including Pembroke’s, Rx, Circa 1922, Boca Bay, Chops Deli, and Osteria Cicchetti. He also manages eight hives of Italian honey bees, and plans to expand the number of hives and operate a pollinating business in the next five years. A career firefighter and cowboy-cooking instructor, farming and beekeeping have been side businesses for Pridgen. But working the land is in his blood and will serve him well into retirement. “I used to make more money selling my produce at the farmers’ market, but now my business with the restaurants is just as profitable,” Pridgen admits. “Chefs know if they run out of tomatoes in the middle of rush hour, they can call me and I will deliver what they need. I may have to source it from other growers, but I will deliver!” Pembroke’s and Rx executive chef and owner James Doss has worked with Pridgen for the past five years and calls him the “farm ambassador.” “I use his tomatoes in our shrimp and grits, and his gold potatoes, red potatoes and squash as sides,” Doss tells. “He grows great watermelons! We compress them with a vacuum seal machine which makes them really red and tasty, and sprinkle with sea salt.” Chef de cuisine Carson Jewell of Rx Restaurant says he and Frankie are on the same page. With his beautiful Big Red and Cherokee heirloom tomatoes, he calls Pridgen his sliced-tomato guy. Doss and Jewell also use the peaches and apples Pridgen sources from the western part of North Carolina. Peaches are used for cobblers, jams and other desserts. They are served with pork, too, and apples make a delicious mignonette for oysters. During the early winter when the ground’s at rest, Pridgen tests his
soil for needed amendments and adds animal manures as necessary. He plans his crops around a four-year rotation. He uses his two greenhouses, a regular heated one that is 24-feet-by-48-feet, and a hightunnel one, 30-feet-by-25-feet, which is only viable February through November. “My challenge every year is to propagate and plant earlier and earlier until I have produce all through the winter. “ Board president Ron Koster said there will be 30 vendors for this year’s Wilmington Riverfront Farmers’ Market. Each Saturday, Apr. 15 through Nov. 18, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., local and organic growers will be on hand to educate consumers about the benefits of seasonal eating and to encourage the use of locally grown farm products. Market manager BJ Ryan coordinates the vendors, and says Pridgen will be selling broccoli, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, greens, Irish potatoes, lima beans, peppers, sweet potatoes, and of course heirloom tomatoes. Some of the harvest from his 295 muscadine grapevines will be on hand, as well as jars of his golden honey. When it comes to the cultivation of his sweet-tasting muscadines, Pridgen says it’s a family secret. But one consumer comments, “Oh, I remember these from my grandma!” Pridgen’s honey is delicious, too. Certified through the New Hanover County Beekeepers’ Association just last year, Pridgen is excited about the prospect of cultivating enough hives of Italian honey bees to rent out to fruit farms for pollination, four-to-six weeks at a time. Bees gather nectar from a 3-mile radius, and Pridgen’s bees have access to flowering blackberries, clover and dandelions around mid-April. Master beekeeper David Bridgers has 200 hives for his pollinating business and helps educate beekeepers throughout the state. He won a blue ribbon for honey at the Eastern Agricultural Society in 2010. He and his wife Kay have three grandchildren, and Bridgers enjoys giving talks to elementary school kids. He’s very excited about the North Carolina Beekeeping Association’s 100th anniversary, an organization which is the oldest of its kind in the nation. This associa-
WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 15
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● Pridgen harvests honey from bees on his farm, too. Photos by Lindsey A. Miller Photography
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tion has adopted a “honey standard,” by which beekeepers who sell honey must abide. Bridgers says beekeepers need to monitor the food supply in their beehives during the winter, so the bees will have enough to eat and nurture the queen bee. She is very busy laying eggs at this time and must be properly nourished. (Read “Top 10 Tips for Winter Beekeepers,” by Lauren Arcuri, small farms expert.) Bridgers agrees that honey mixed with cinnamon may help people who suffer from allergies and other ailments. (See “Facts on honey and cinnamon: Q. What is the only food that doesn’t spoil? A. Honey”). For more information on beekeeping, call David Bridgers at 910512-2765. For upcoming Wilmington Riverfront Farmers’ Market dates, call BJ Ryan at 910-538-6223 or go to www.riverfrontfarmersmarket.org. To contact Frankie Pridgen, e-mail email@example.com.
PRIGDEN FARM GAZPACHO, COURTESY RX AND PEMBROKE’S RESTAURANTS INGREDIENTS: 3 tomatoes, chopped 1 large cucumber, seeded and peeled 1 yellow onion 2 cloves garlic ¼ cup apple cider vinegar 2 Tbsp. Texas Pete 1 bunch parsley, chopped Salt and pepper to taste METHOD: Place all ingredients in blender and run until smooth. Finish with Georgia olive oil and Wrightsville Beach sea salt. Serve as a chilled soup. Enjoy!
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In the Limelight Local food writer Fanny Slater takes on Food Network By Shea Carver ● Devour editor
few years ago, local food writer Fanny Slater had won the Rachael Ray’s Great American Cookbook Competition, was in the process of writing and publishing her first collection of recipes, and pitching Food Network an idea for a show she had on millennials. “It essentially followed my friends and I trying new restaurants, having picnics by the river, doing Sunday funday brunch, or craft-beer tasting,” she explains. “I wanted to profile different chefs, and I wanted it to be nationally based rather than locally. I was trying to pitch something less about me and more about how people in their 30s spend weekends—because the biggest difference with millennials is we spend our money on experiences and not on things.” Food Network turned down the idea. They liked it but Slater as a host wasn’t technically in their demographic. She wasn’t a celebrity, as they culled on their sister network, Cooking Channel, which features people like Hayley Duff going into a Brooklyn restaurant to learn how to make homemade pickles. And she wasn’t experienced enough as a TV host personality to have her own “stir and dump” cooking show. In fact, she had never been on TV per se, except for a few Rachael Ray shows during the cookbook challenge. “It’s been a long journey and the biggest learning curve,” Slater reflects. In fact, it hasn’t been until the past six months she says she’s truly matured professionally and personally. In looking back at her original pitch, she wasn’t ready to be on TV. “When the opportunity came up with [local TV station] WWAY, to do a cooking segment, it was the first time I was on camera by myself continuously,” she continues.
• Right: Fanny Slater at her neighborhood haunt, The Goat & Compass, in Brooklyn Arts District, downtown Wilmington. Photo by Lindsey A. Miller Photography • Next page: Fanny and Rachael Ray on the set of the “Rachael Ray Show.”Courtesy photo, Fanny Slater
18 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
“It was like JV training—to get me ready for the varsity league.” Varsity came a calling at the end of last summer. A Food Network producer rang up Slater after having met her on the “Rachael Ray Show” and explained how the network was launching its second season of the 30-minute show, “The Kitchen Sink,” a spinoff from their hour-long show, “The Kitchen.” They wanted to recast the hosts of it and were in search of three people. Slater came in as a viable choice, but she had to impress Food Network executives during an audition. “Two weeks later I was auditioning in New Jersey with 16 people—all people I had seen on YouTube videos or on shows like ‘Top Chef,’” she says. “The Kitchen Sink” has a premise that actually builds on the millennial demographic, as it follows social-media based hacks, tricks, trends, and shortcuts to cooking. They showcase fun ways to host brunch for 12, by taking two dozen eggs, two loaves of French bread, a pack of cheese, and a bunt pan to make quick eggs sandwiches for under $10. Or they go meta with making a pizzadilla cake, which is basically a pizza and quesadilla stacked together and served in monstrosity form, perfect for a game-day feast with friends. “The show is like scrolling your phone and pulling stuff from Buzzfeed’s Tasty or other sites,” Slater explains. Slater and her cohosts—restaurateur/chef Tregaye Fraser, who won season 12 of “Food Network Star” and restaurateur/chef Spike Mendelsohn from season four of “Top Chef”—research ideas alongside producers to showcase with their own flavor profiles. Fraser often does over-the-top Southern comfort food. Slater will present go-to pantry staples, like fresh herbs and citrus, to create tasty eats. “They
really want our fanbase to look at us and know what we’re making is connected to us,” she tells. Every other week Slater is flying to New Jersey to film more footage and do promotional interviews to help market the show. She may fly up on Monday to do rehearsal screenings, then film multiple episodes on Tuesday and Wednesday, do an interview with Rachael Ray on Thursday, then fly back Friday. “We are still in production and have a whole lot more to shoot,” she informs. “There are 13 episodes in a season, so I am learning a lot on the fast track.” So far the balance between storytelling and cooking has been the hardest blip to overcome, according to Slater. A natural on camera, with a bubbly loquaciousness, she says the network advises her frequently, “OK, jump right into your dish.” “I would tend to just stand there and tell the story,” she quips. “Cooking and talking simultaneously can be hard. I now can look back on those things and say I can learn from them. Whereas in my 20s I may not have had enough maturity to learn from something like that. I’d say, ‘Oh, I’ll work on that,’ but maybe I wouldn’t do anything about it.” Slater spent her 20s finishing college at Peace in Raleigh, NC, then an all-female university. She knew she wanted to do something in the entertainment field and was leaning toward acting. Actually, during a break from college, she would drive back and forth to Wilmington to audition for “One Tree Hill.” “Nothing ever panned out with it,” she tells. But it didn’t stop her from continuing to follow her passions. During college Slater auditioned for improv gigs at Peace, held from a group in Raleigh called “The Village Idiots.” They honed stage talent for comedians and Slater was a natural fit, so much so, even after she graduated she would audition for them at Peace. “When I was a little kid, I always performed for my family,” she remembers. “I would put on a bunch of outfits and come downstairs to my parents and sister, and stand on the fireplace and put on a little show. My parents were like, ‘She’s either crazy or she’s going to be on television.’ I was this funny little kid, and they laughed at everything I did. And that made me feel so good as a kid to make people laugh. And in school, if we had to stand up and do a project, I was the first person to raise my hand—whereas everyone else shied away. That was a natural enjoyment of me being in front of people and seeing their reactions.” Yet, Slater admits to not being the best student in school. Though she loved the social aspect of it, being in academically advanced classes challenged her. It wasn’t until she began writing she realized English would become her major. “I had a teacher in high school at Raven’s Croft who once told me after an assignment to ‘use your imagination; there is no wrong answer.’ I was like, ‘Finally!’” Slater explains. “Right away, I took every creative writing and grammar class I could.” She convinced her advisor to allow her to intern at her favorite restaurant, Margaux’s, in Raleigh, during her final semester at Peace and write a senior project on it. “I really loved food and writing, and wanted to combine the two,” she says. In college Slater lived with her parents for a while and would frequently watch Food Network while exercising on the treadmill. She grew fond of the back-to-back episodes of Rachael’s Ray’s “30-Minute Meals” that would air at 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. “It almost became an obsession,” she says. “And I always loved cooking with my dad. Even though Dad says when I was little I wanted to be in the kitchen, I never said, ‘I’m going to be a chef!’ I knew I didn’t want to go to culinary school; I wanted to do it my way. That’s why WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 19
INDUSTRY I looked up to Rachael. She was very clear: ‘I’m not a chef; I’m just here to cook.’” After graduation Slater made a bold move to Hollywood to build an acting résumé. While she loved the City of Angels, she only stayed almost two years before moving to Wilmington—a place she and her family visited on vacation but never really explored beyond the beach. Once she put her feet on the sidewalk of downtown Wilmington, craft beer and snacks in hand, she decided she didn’t want to leave. “Now, five years later, I’ve lived in multiple places in town, but my only requirement is they must be within walking distance to the Goat and Compass,” Slater says. She has held numerous events at the Brooklyn Arts District neighborhood bar, including a book signing for the release of her cookbook, “Orange, Lavendar and Figs,” last summer, as well as her debut on “The Kitchen Sink” in January. She also did a book signing in Raleigh at Margaux’s and reconnected with people from middle school and friends’ parents. “People from all pieces of my life showed up,” she says of the 15 stops on the East Coast book tour. Though cookbook number two is currently not even being considered, the end goal for Slater is always in her mind’s eye: having her own “dump and stir” cooking show. Preferably one set in her hometown, even. “I’m lucky not to have been handed a solo opportunity because I’ve learned so much from my cohosts, and it takes the pressure off from having all the attention just being focused on me,” she
• Spike Medelsohn, Fanny Slater and Tregaye Fraser on the set of “The Kitchen Sink” on Food Network, which airs Sundays, 11 a.m. Courtesy photo, Food Network
says. “So I am not carrying all the weight of a new show. It’s Food Network, but I am starting at a junior level, which will hopefully lead to new opportunities. The end goal is to have my own show. I love Wilmington and want to settle here. That’s the ultimate—doing it in my way. But now I feel really stable—really content. I’m not reaching for anything else currently; I am just full of gratitude.”
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EAT! Recipes to try at home
Food Your Feelings: Local blogger shares latest round of recipes from her kitchen BY Emily Caulfield ● Devour contributor, Food Your Feelings blogger, http://dearemilycaulfield.wordpress.com.
A mad scientist’s power comes from making something wonderful and brand new—like a singular dish that was just a grocery list of disparate ingredients, moments or hours before. The golden, shimmering alchemy of cooking is one of the ways I fill my life with warmth and light. I cook home food; no molecular gastronomics, no loopy swirls on the plate. It is a remarkable thing to be confident in providing for yourself—not just surviving, but creating, often out of very little, a feast, nourishing and magnificent in its rustic simplicity. IMA LITTLE TAVERNA SALAD Also known as “marouli salata” this fresh Greek salad is as meaty, herb-flecked, and satisfying as any old morsel of beef or fish. Tender, lush and salty feta is kicked swiftly in the ass with bright lemon and grassy dill, all balanced with crisp, toothsome romaine. Anyway, it’s very simple and traditional but I also add a little of my own oomph, which is irresistible of course. So, let’s goooo! INGREDIENTS: 1 head romaine, washed, dried, shredded 4-5 scallions, sliced thinly 4 oz feta, crumbled 1 fat bunch dill, washed, dried, chopped fine Juice of half a lemon Salt Pepper 2 tbsps olive oil METHOD: Combine romaine, feta, scallions, and about half of the dill in a 22 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
large bowl. In another little bowl, whisk together the oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper, and the rest of the dill. Truthfully, you might have to pour a teeny more oil, then add a little lemon, then adjust, etc. Since the salad is so dead simple, the flavors really do have to be balanced to blow everyone away. But no worries! You can do it—I just have this feeling. Pour that lovely herby dressing all over everything, and fold and fold, breaking up some of the feta in the process. Serve immediately, with an extra crack of pep, in pretty bowls. HOT POT SHORT RIBS WITH BOK CHOY AND EGG DUMPLINGS I wanted to replicate an exact Asian flavor profile, from a range of dishes I’ve tried here and there and wherever, but just couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I had no recipe, simply a taste and a dream. You couldn’t have known what I wanted, but I also couldn’t have gotten any closer. And now I’m sharing it! With you! The rare winwin-win situation. Plus, I recently learned how to make spaetzle, and I’ll find an excuse to put them in anything. And in a gingery, peppery, star anise-scented broth? Those eggy noodles never found a warmer welcome. INGREDIENTS: For the beef: 1 lb beef short ribs 11/2 half heads of bok choy, washed dried chopped 8 whole carrots, washed and sliced into 2-inch pieces, diagonally 2 medium onions, cut into eighths 4 c beef stock, heated over medium low 1 stalk lemongrass, crushed and bruised 11/2 tsp sesame oil 2 tbsps rice vinegar or more to taste 1-2 tbsps brown sugar 1/4 c soy sauce 5-6 whole cloves 4 star anise pods 2 cloves garlic 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and minced 1 tsp chili flakes, or more to taste Dash olive oil Black pepper
For the dumplings 1 c flour 2 eggs 1/4 c milk Salt and pepper 6 c boiling salted water METHOD: I made a note with a few ingredients, but this whole thing is to taste really. How much you like certain flavors, how sweet or savory, how deep into the jungle you go: It’s your call. So, since I decided I wanted to eat this around 5 in the afternoon I didn’t have a lot of time, but no matter. Perfect quick marinade for the ribs: Loosen it up with some olive oil, sesame oil, cloves, star anise, sugar, half of the vinegar, half the soy, chili flakes, black pepper, ginger, and garlic, altogether into a bag. Plus, the meat—right. Let that hang for about an hour. Prep all your veg and set aside. Stare out the window for a while at the clouds and the birds. Put on some world music. OK! Back to it. Heat a dutch oven over medium high. With a pair of tongs, pick off the biggest pods and cloves and set them aside. When the pan is hot, sear those ribs briefly on each side. Remove them to a cutting board to rest a sec. Brown the carrots and onions in the same way, in batches if necessary. Remove the veg and deglaze the pan with a little of the warmed beef stock. Whisk it all around, bits up, and then put all the ribs and carrot and onion back in the pot, and slosh in the rest of the stock. Bring to the edge of a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Add the bok choy, and simmer for at least an hour, more if you can, but who has the time? Anyway, let it alone for a while, and take a load off because the dumplings are literally so simple and quick! To prepare the dumplings, put a pot of hot water on to boil, then whisk together flour, salt, pepper, and milk with lightly beaten eggs until you have something like a thick pancake batter, but can still drip off the end of a spoon. You’re going to drop this batter into the steadily boiling salted water, so you have to decide: pastry bag or pushing through a sieve? For this meal, I thought, OK, yeah, egg noodles, and made long thin dumplings, pastry-bag style. No bag? Just pour batter into a Ziploc and snip the tip! Snip smaller than you think you need to, trust me. Squeeze the bag over the pot of water to make the noodles. Like I said, I made long thin ones, but it’s your dish! Be ready with a slotted spoon or spider to scoop the cooked noodles. It takes about 10 or 15 seconds! You’ll get the rhythm, no doubt, though. I really can’t believe it is so intuitive. Spoon them from the pot to a waiting colander, squeezing out the batter in batches until all the noodles are cooked. Spray with some cold water and shake off excess. Your hot pot should be just about ready any time now! Take that
baby off the heat and let it cool for a bit before heaping noodles into your bowl, ladling over that gorgeous meat in its broth, dim and earthy with carrot and bok choy. This stew is so deeply wonderful, clove and ginger-scented, silky. The meat falling off the bone. It’s as dark and thrilling as a novel set in Hong Kong, during the war, rain swept streets, a murder, a chrysanthemum. An honor. MARION’S ICED CREAM SANDWICHES This recipe is inspired by a real firecracker of a woman, a family matriarch with careful, loving hands and sharp wit. Her iced cream sandwiches were legendary! INGREDIENTS: 1 c heavy cream 3/4 c evaporated milk 1/4 c icing sugar 10-12 chocolate graham crackers Special equipment: hand mixer ~ or ~ immersion blender METHOD: Make sure everything is chilled before you get to work. Ideally, you’d keep your can of evaporated milk in the fridge, and then pop a thin bowl in the freezer to cool while you assemble the mise en place for the miraculous event that is about to transpire in your very own kitchen. Pour everything into a bowl and whip on high until stiff-or-justabout-stiff peaks form. Freeze for about an hour in the bowl. Remove, whip again for about a minute, then freeze for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, break up your grahams into an even number of squares. When it’s frozen enough to hold its shape, lay out grahams on a baking sheet, sugar side down. Make sure the baking sheet can fit in the freezer, otherwise you can just transfer your sandwiches to a plate after they’re assembled. Spoon some ice cream onto a cracker, cover with its top, and squash it down slightly to make a sammie. I let the ice cream fluff out of the sides a little bit for festiveness. Freeze for an hour, then serve! They are totally amazing. Wrap each sandwich in a small square of tinfoil and keep in the freezer! Will be good for about a week, if they last that long. Cheers! WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 23
Cocktails and Conversations The last word at Le Grand Chartreuse BY Joel Finsel ● Devour contributor, mixologist and author of ‘Cocktails and Conversations from the Astral Plane’
here’s a saying in the restaurant business: “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” It basically means if you’re not busy with customers, you should think of yourself as a housekeeper. Leave no stool, mirror or baseboard unpolished. Something always needs to be scrubbed or wiped, at least until the first man or woman walks through the door, which is another good reason why slow nights are the best for making friends with bartenders. Last week started out at a glacial pace. Weather forecasters predicted fierce winds and possible tornadoes. No one was to drive unless absolutely necessary. I was starting to wonder if anyone would show. Then a man and woman ducked in, just as the dark sky was at its brightest. “Wow, what a moon!” he said, and pulled the door closed behind her. “The way the clouds race past it, it’s incredible...” “Looks angry,” she said, while shaking the chill from her arms. They each wore long coats and carried umbrellas. “Welcome,” I said. “How’s it looking out there?” “No people anywhere,” she said. “It’s eerie.” She held up her arm, and he helped her out of her coat and hung it on the rack. “Yeah,” he said. “I kept expecting to see tumbleweeds. We saw your light on. Is it too late for a drink?” “Please, make yourselves comfortable.”
• Right: Joel Finsel Courtesy photo
24 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
IMBIBE “Do you have Chartreuse?” she asked. “Just the green right now,” I said. “Our pastry chef used the last of the yellow.” “How is the yellow different?” she asked. “Sweeter,” I said. “Less potent, too. It’s only 80 proof, compared to 110.” “I’ll take it,” she said, and set her purse on the bar. “Neat, please, with a bottle of still water on the side.” “I’ll have a glass of Chardonnay,” he said. “Coming right up.” “Thanks,” they said. I took my time pouring their drinks, two of the easiest orders imaginable. I made a point of opening a fresh bottle of wine before pouring his glass. And I was careful to measure out her pour with a jigger right in front of her and to top it off with an extra splash while they watched. Her nose hovered above her cup when I set the green liqueur down on her napkin. “Try a sip,” she said, and slid the whole tableau a few inches closer to him. “For health.” He wet his lips, sniffed the glass again, then tilted it back against his lips. Holding off a cough, he swallowed, his fist balled up against her chest. “I can feel it snaking its way down, like liquid heat.” Her mouth puckered. “What is it again?” he asked. “Pure herbaceousness,” she said, and downed a healthy dram. Her husband laughed. “It’s made in France,” she said, while pointing to the bottle. “By monks.” I noticed one of the hotel tourist maps of town folded up against her purse. He turned to look at me. “Is she crazy or what?” “She’s right,” I said. “The name comes from the monastery where they live, Le Grande Chartreuse, up some long windy road deep in the Alps where they all live in silence.” “Silence?” he asked. “Makes them good at keeping secrets,” she said. “They’ve been there for a thousand years,” I said, paraphrasing the description from the back of the bottle. “But they’ve only been making this stuff for the past 400 or so.” She took a sip of water, then dropped a dollop of it on top of her drink. “Do they say God gave them the recipe?” She looked at me. “No, says here it was a military officer. An artilleryman.” “400 years!” he groaned. “They considered the recipe old even back then,” I said. “It was part of an illuminated manuscript, made with gold and silver leaf. Who knows where the officer found it. They called it an ‘Elixir of Longevity.’”
Veteran bartender Joel Finsel is the author of “Cocktails and Conversations from the Astral Plane.” Feel free to send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 locations to serve you 7220 Wrightsville Avenue 5906 Oleander Drive 910-256-1222 910-769-4232 Serving Breakfast and Lunch 6:30 AM to 2:00 PM every day.
www.beachbagels910.com WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 25
THE KEG! Reviews and rambles on brew
Home Again: A family dream is realized when brewer returns to Wrightsville Beach BY Bethany Turner ● Devour contributor At low tide, when the marsh and mud surrounding North Carolina’s oyster reefs wafts the unbridled scent of sulfur and salt, oystermen trudge through thick earth to harvest the mollusks. For two locals, Jud Watkins and his father, Peter, oystering was not only a pastime but a way of life. And it usually included beer. “We’d go out oystering and take a little six-pack with us, and after you oyster, you have a beer,” he shares. Eventually, the duo dabbled in home brewing. “When we’d be bottling beer, we’d be steaming oysters. With homebrewing you’re using the same setup; it’s just a propane burner. That was my father and I years ago.” A little over a decade ago, the Watkins began to wonder why there was only one local brewery downtown, Front Street Brewery, for a city with the population of about 95,000 people. “We thought, ‘Asheville’s on fire.’ There were just breweries popping up there left and right at that time. There really needs to be a brewery on this side of town [near Wrightsville Beach]. We brewed on and off over the years and joked about the idea at first.” About four years ago, Watkins and his dad began seriously looking for a location. They committed. “We were all in,” Watkins affirms. However, shortly after, at only 59, his dad passed away from a heart attack. “I had the best dad in the world,” Watkins says. “We had 30 great years together. And I thought, ‘We said we were going to do it—I have to move forward, and it’s too good of an idea to let it go.’” It took Watkins the better part of three years to secure a location, but he eventually discovered his perfect site. “It
• Above: Owner Jud Watkins, Wrightsville Beach Brewery. • Next page: The tables were crafted out of trees cleared on the Oleander Drive property, as to defer waste. Photos by Lindsey Miller Photography
26 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
started out with that live oak on the corner of Oleander Drive and Greenville Avenue,” he tells. “I love that tree. I grew up climbing trees like that.” He wanted to be sure if they moved forward with the lot, he would be able to preserve the tree. He approached a civil engineer, Charlie Cazier, to put the site plan together. “We put the building back on the lot and Charlie took it to the next level and kept all four of our live oak trees,” Watkins tells. “Beneath the canopy of two of the trees is where our beer garden will be, about 50 feet by 150 feet.” As construction continued, the project—dubbed “Wrightsville Beach Brewery”—ended with about 16 trees needing to be cut from the building space. Watkins refused to take the trees to the dump; instead, he called a friend with a portable sawmill. to help repurpose the wood. The outcome: The brewery’s tables and bar. “We had pecan, two cedars, and just about the rest were pines and magnolias,” Watkins details. “Woodworkers love pecan and cedar, but we kept it all. The ‘sexiest,’ if you will, is the bar with the live-edge pecan. Even the underside of the bar is the excess metal for the roof. I read before we started this project that as much as 40 percent of waste in a landfill is construction waste. Every time we turned around we said, ‘No, let’s keep that.’”
IMBIBE The brewery, which opened Marine Lab. As a hobby, “Everyone is really friendly and helpon Jan. 20, is a full-service Zelnio home brewed. restaurant with 110 to 120 “We moved overseas ful, and we’re all looking forward to seats. Watkins wanted to stick right after that time,” he what each other is doing. There was only tells. “I was continuing to to oysters and beer—the two food groups he knows best. work as a freelance sciFront Street when I left, and now we are But with Chef David Owens, ence writer and made my the 11th brewery to open in the area.” they expanded they menu own beer out in the woods to feature an array of unique in Sweden. It sounds really —Brewer Kevin Zelnio, dishes, such as shrimp and idyllic—and it was. People grits pizza. liked [my beer] in the vilWrightsville Beach Brewery Yes—shrimp and grits pizza. lage we were living in and They tried 60 different recisaid, ‘Why don’t you sell it?’ pes before figuring out the So I started my own small perfect pizza dough. The menu will be heavy on the seafood, brewery in an old prison hotel in the middle of downtown yet also include vegetarian options. Västervik, which is a small Baltic coastal town. I had Bryggeri “He’s cooked in 23 countries, literally all over the world,” Fängelset for about three years, and we were kind of tired of Watkins touts of Owens. “He is from Ireland, originally, but living where winter was, so we did the opposite and moved he’s cooked in France, Russia, Japan, Hawaii. . . . He’s a sea- to Florida.” food specialist, and I’m a commercial fisherman, so we’ll do In Sarasota Zelnio worked as a production brewer at JDub’s everything we can to supply him the freshest seafood pos- Brewing Company. The WBB brewer position opened and his sible.’ wife infromed Zelnio. “She wanted to move back to WilmingThey will have 40 taps, and begin with just a few originals ton,” he says. “Of all the places we really liked, it was always while also pouring eastern NC breweries as guest taps, ac- coming back to North Carolina.” cording to General Manager Rick Grant. Grant—with a backZelnio will run a 20-barrel system complete with two bright ground in hotel and restaurant management, plus accounting tanks. WBB will mill their own grain on site and run a steamand finance—grew up on the coast of New Jersey. controlled system to mandate the temperature. “We’ve taken “I’m very conscious of the beach vibe,” he says. “I want to a little extra effort to put a second bright in so that hopefully maintain that here. I will bring great service to the front-of- we can do some lagers and some more brilliant, in terms of house and maintain the concept we’re striving for. This is kind clarity, beers,” Watkins add. of a dream. Even though it’s Watkins’s business, I’m treating it WBB also will feature the city’s first canning line. It’s a dilike it’s my own.” Grant will book live music in the beer garden every weekend and some weeknights. He plans on hosting reggae Sundays, along with weekend brunches that roll right into live music outdoors in the afternoon. The beer garden will be home to a mobile bar as well for the convenience of guests. Additionally, Grant is eager to begin utilizing the brewery’s private event space, which can hold 60 comfortably. As for the beer, brewer Kevin Zelnio, will bring an array of styles out the gate. Zelnio began a career as a marine biologist, and lived in Wilmington while working for UNCW’s Center for Marine Science in 2010 and 2011. He and his wife also lived in Beaufort, NC, where he spent time at the Duke WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 27
IMBIBE rector Watkins predicts the craft beer market will embrace. “A can is the best thing for beer,” Watkins spouts. “No light is getting in it, and it’s also the best way to pressure seal the beer. If somebody takes a 12-pack out on their boat, drinks six of them with their buddies, a month later those beers are still going to be good. That’s what we’re all about: the highest quality of beer.” Distribution is part of the game plan, too, but Watkins and Kevin insist quality control will come first and foremost. They want every recipe to be near-perfect before canning. The early recipes on tap will include an amber ale, pale ale, IPA, and a couple stouts. “Our Oysterman Stout is actually a more traditional stout that pairs with an oyster,” Watkins reveals. “We’ll also have what I call a ‘new school’ oyster stout, which actually has oysters in it.” WBB also will be a “give-back” business from the onset. Watkins already has planned 11 percent of sales from every “beer of the month” to be donated to a local charity. “We’re trying to show that if you plan things out right, hopefully you
Japanese HibacHi steakHouse & susHi
can give from day one,” he says. “Some make billions and then start a foundation. And there’s no doubt they’ll probably make a greater impact than me—but there’s no reason not to try.” “We’re very interested in coastal life, all of us,” Zelnio adds. “That they are intending to donate a portion of proceeds to the Coastal Federation was a big selling point for me as well. I’m always thinking, ‘What more can we do with the money we make from alcohol sales?’ I think this is a great way to give back to and be a part of the community.” Zelnio will work closely with Chef Owens to ensure the beer and food menus pair, and the brewpub experience will be both educational and culinary. More so, they all look forward to adding to the already robust growth of Wilmington’s brewpub and brewery scene. “I think the three of us brewpubs, including Front Street and Bill’s Front Porch, really complement each other, as well as all the breweries in Wilmington,” Zelnio adds. “Everyone is really friendly and helpful, and we’re all looking forward to what each other is doing. There was only Front Street when I left, and now we are the 11th brewery to open in the area. It was extremely exciting to return to so much activity, and it really cements my decision to come back here. In fact, it was surprising, frankly. When I was in Beaufort, there were just a couple home brewers, and you had to go to New Bern to get any kind of brewing supplies. It is very nice to be home again, for the first time almost.” Wrightsville Beach Brewery • www.wrightsvillebeachbrewery.com 6201 Oleander Dr. • 910-256-4928
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28 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
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CORKED! Reviews and rambles on vino
2017 Tasty Trends Worth a Sip: Higher end cava will be on the upswing of popularity this year BY John Burke ● Devour columnist
I’ve been reading up on predictions for wine trends in 2017, in part because I just need a reason to be optimistic that this year has some promise. There are a few that caught my eye. Industry people are predicting wine lists will get shorter, more hip and easy to read. Wines on tap will likely be expanding, if for no better reason than their cost effectiveness. And wines in a can, such as Underwood, are expected to grow their market share by quite a bit (again, cost effectiveness comes into play here). But everywhere I looked, one recurring item kept popping up. It looks like bubbles will be big this year. It seems like every blog and every article I checked had some bold prediction about the future of carbonated juice. I, for one, welcome a greater footprint for sparkling wine. I’ve always thought too many people reserve it for cocktails and celebratory toasts. There’s a rich and varied array of sparklers out there, and they can fill many niches. One prediction on which I’ll be keeping my eye is the possible rise in upscale cava. Cava is a Spanish sparkling white wine made and uses methode champenoise—essentially using the same method French champagne makers use. This separates them from Italian prosecco, which is created by different means altogether. In the Champagne region, the last round of fermentation takes place in the bottle rather than in the vat. Most folks have probably tasted cava, even if they didn’t know it. Cavas are routinely used as banquet wines in large venues for weddings and other events which call for a toast among a large number of people. It’s best known for its affordability—I mean, it can be downright cheap—and drinkability. But 2017 might be the year which changes cava’s image. Some higher-end cava’s are expected to hit the US market, and I expect big things. Spain has issued a new designation, Cava de Paraje Calificado, to mark better quality sparkling wine leaving its shores. Literally translated to “cava from a qualified place,” it denotes a sparkling wine of better quality. Several writers are calling for a resurgence of sparkling reds. My experience with them in years past has been mixed. I usually enjoy the first glass and then never want to see one again for 30 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
months. I expect more subtle offerings this year than I’ve seen in the past. And in the Cape Fear region, where heat and humidity affect our drinking habits, chilled and bubbly reds might find a home. By the way, for those who have no interest in bubbles, there are two political stories that may impact the wine industry. A number of English wines either hit the US market in 2016 or will in early 2017. But their hopes may rise and fall with Brexit, so keep an eye on that. Some industry speculators are banking on charting the Washington cache of President Trump by watching the fortunes of his Virginia winery, suspecting when people are buying his juice, he’ll have clout, and when sales stall, he won’t be able to muster any political capital to advance his agenda. That may be more than readers care to think about over their next drink, but ... the more you know. Of course, wine trends are meaningless when faced with the question of what to pour in a glass. While it can be fun to look at what’s hot in the rest of the world, we should never be slaves to trends. I encourage everyone to try new things, but if you’re happier with a cold Budweiser, err, America, then drink the ... no, scratch that. If all you’re drinking is Bud, then it is time to expand your horizons. Try something new this year, but never give up on the drinks you already love. And enjoy this year’s trends, but always remember: They’re just trends. We had them last year and we’ll have them again next year.
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How Does Nature Work? Learning how to best support it in order for it to support you BY Evan Folds â—? Devour contributor
How does Nature work? It is an overarching question that has a surprisingly simple answer: Mother Nature is the beginning and the end; she will always win. As the great Viktor Schauberger once told us, â€œComprehend and copy nature.â€? We have strayed so far from this critical truth and it is literally and figuratively crippling us in so many ways. There is no sector of society that makes the point more abundantly clear than in agriculture. Humanity is defined by agriculture. It was not until hunter-gatherers envisioned and put into action the concept of domestication and planting food crops that we put down roots and began the experiment in consciousness, and the process of specialization and industrialization that has come to define the modern world. 32 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
FEATURE Our intelligence and industry have generated great wealth, but at the same time have taken us further away from nature than we have ever been. In the modern world, one must have intention to spend any sort of considerable time in nature and know her intimately. In my evaluation, the most important challenge we face in modern times is to consciously reintegrate humanity back into resonance with the natural rhythms that produced us. This work begins within, and in the development of our perspective. And from perspective comes action. The very act of agriculture is the manipulation of the natural environment. Do we consider the soil as a checking account free to spend, or a savings account for the future? Do we simply grow plants or do we focus on growing the soil? These are seminal questions. No doubt, our future success as a species will be defined by the scope and depth of our perspective toward agriculture and natural living systems. For over 10,000 years, humanity was in synergy with nature by default. And in only a short 100 years, the Industrial Age and blind consciousness have achieved a seeming dominance over the Earth. Technology and machines are increasingly doing our jobs; pharmaceuticals and supplements are considered adequate replacements to nutrition; and our food is no longer our medicine. We have lost the fundamental precept of supporting nature so that she can support us. We have become disconnected. If it is not in the soil, it is not in the plant. If it is not in the plant it is not in the people. Combine this mantra with the reality that the majority of our food is processed and travels over 1,500 miles to our plates, and we have gotten to the root of almost every degenerative issue facing society today. The way back is simple. First, we must develop our personal agriculture. Everyone should eat at least one local meat-free meal weekly. As Wendell Berry told us, “Eating is an agricultural act.” And I don’t intend to make a moral statement on meat-eating, but there is no doubt that curbing the intensity of our meat-based diet would have real benefits for the Earth. Second, everyone should grow at least one functional plant. I’m not talking about a houseplant, but something you eat or use in some way. Whether it is a pepper plant to garnish salad or growing a favorite medicinal herb, everyone needs a direct growing experience. This simple pleasure has proven to change and enhance many lives. In fact, we should start a movement that says all schools must require students to raise a plant that they eat on their own as part of the curriculum. You heard it here first; call it “Personal Agriculture 101.” When we have children who don’t know ketchup and French fries come from tomatoes and potatoes, there is a lot of work to do. Finally, and maybe most importantly, we must broaden our reverence and perspective toward nature herself. I work as a consultant offering fertility management services in all sectors of agriculture, from acreage farmers to landscaping companies, and it is alarming how many professionals are completely unaware of the damage they are doing to things they are actually trying to help. In my experience working with growers, the most important service I provide is to offer a deeper perspective toward the forces of life and how living systems actually work. This could be as simple as acknowledging the benefits of using compost tea in a hydroponic system, or it could be something more profound, such as actually coming to terms with the idea that there is more to life than the sum of our parts. There is a book called “Secrets of the Soil: New Solutions for Restoring Our Planet” that brought all of this to clarity for me almost 15 years ago. It proposes we must go beyond the material and even “organic” to methods of agriculture that incorporate spiritual science and are truly regenerative. Through pondering, experimenting and experiencing this approach to agriculture, I developed a consulting platform: BioEnergetic Agri-
culture. It recognizes life on physical, mineral, biological, and energetic levels. Here’s how it works: The physicality of the soil is obvious. Think soil structure, soil horizons, and plants themselves. We can encourage good soil structure, but the plant growth and physical structure of soil will normally move in the right direction given proper mineral, biological and energetic methods and consideration. The mineral capacity of soil deals with fertilization and base saturation balance. In agriculture, and even in the garden at home, too much focus is put on NPK without consideration for trace elements and mineral balance and diversity. It’s important to use elementally balanced and diverse materials, like rock dusts, kelp or sea minerals in the garden. These materials also make great tools for helping soil microbes make enzymes and other biocatalysts. When using singular elemental products, like Epsom salts (MgS), lime (Ca), superphosphates (P), etc., soil testing should be done first to determine if they are actually needed. The health of soil is much more than the pH number, as the work of Dr. William Albrecht tells. The biological component of BioEnergetic Agriculture is the soil food web that supports plant growth. The importance of diverse soil microbes cannot be overstated. Just consider the significance of plankton in the ocean. While microbes can appear complicated, they selforganize and don’t really need our help other than to apply them consistently to our gardens and stay out of the way! And they are much simpler than we have made them out to be. Just like eating gut microbes found in yogurt or probiotics after getting sick and taking antibiotics, humus and compost tea inoculate the garden with beneficial soil microbes. The compost pile is the gut of the landscape. Finally, there is the energetic capacity of life—or “life force,” as I like to call it. In fact, life can be deduced to electrical impulses in the brain. Simply acknowledging this fact provides an opportunity for experience, and a template to work with life force proactively that was not there previously. Many call the idea of life force “New Age” or “woo-woo,” but it is not controversial to suggest there is more to life than what is physically here—as is the general belief of most people. We just struggle to come to agreement with what it means. The notion of working with life force on the farm was championed by the “biodynamic methods” introduced by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in his agriculture course lectures from 1924. Steiner’s position was the more comfortable we become with not knowing, the more we know. Far out, right? Steiner developed specific methods and deliberate processes to concentrate subtle energies of specific plants and organic materials so they could be leveraged to regenerate the life force of farms. But biodynamics is not a complete farming system. Neither is conventional or organic farming, for that matter. They all neglect to combine and integrate principles of soil physicality, mineral balance, microbial diversity, and life force. Think of it this way: Conventional farming is plowing and fertilizing. Organic brings in the biological, but biodynamics is the only method that addresses subtle energies. Unfortunately, it does so without addressing soil testing, cover crops, compost tea, etc. The concept of life force can be put into action in many different ways, such as using potentized field sprays, planting by the celestial cycles, activating water with implosion, frequent farming with field broadcasters, and more. It’s important to cast doubt aside and have an experience. As I have described, conventional farming is drowning, organic farming is treading water, but bioenergetic agriculture is swimming where you want to go. I challenge readers to look into some of the people mentioned above. And let me know what you learn; helps me remember. Now, go plant a garden. FALL 2016 | DEVOUR 33
READ! Cookbooks and other reviews
Bites of Home: From the South to France, food is the centerpiece of rooting for the home team BY Gwenyfar Rohler ● Devour columnist, freelance writer and business owner of Old Books on Front Street The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food Edited and Introduced by Randall Kenan Eno Publishers, 2016, pgs. 189
“The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food” is the latest offering from Eno Publishers. The nonprofit press, founded in 2008, primarily puts together anthologystyle books that offer a wide breadth of voices from across the area. Many of their books up till now have been site specific: Hillsborough, Greensboro, Wilmington (disclaimer: I have a piece included in that anthology). However, “The Carolina Table” looks at the state as a whole. Editor Randal Kenan has assembled an interesting and compelling group of writers to talk about North Carolina food traditions, ranging from nationally wellknown, like Daniel Wallace, author of “Big Fish” (“The Mesopotamia of Pork”), and Sophia Woo, winner of the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Ride” (“Vulnerability”), to home-state favorites, like Jaki Shelton Green (“Singing Tables”). Lee Smith’s excerpt from her memoir “Dime Store” contains my favorite anecdote in the book. She recalls introducing her mother to bagels: “Momma responded they probably tasted good to someone who had never had a biscuit.” You can examine that observation from a variety of angles and find truth. Local humorist and Lady of Letters Celia Rivenbark recounts her first real job at a restaurant in her hometown and the local shared adoration of the owner’s Grape Hull Pie in “Grape (Hull Pie) Expectations on Highway 117.” Good memoir writing makes very personal experiences relatable to the wider public. In Rivenbark’s piece the first job, and all the embarrassing mistakes and missteps that lack of experience throws our way, merge with the very palpable and hunger-inducing 34 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
descriptions of large-portion comfort food. Of course, there is homage to barbecue, in Daniel Wallace’s piece. Also grits make an obligatory appearance from Moreton Neal in “Putting on the Grits” (former wife of Bill Neal, the famous chef of “Crook’s Corner”). Neal’s piece opens with a restaurant scene in Asheville where she “schools” a Floridian in the language of grits. I have so been there—unable to not explain something of great importance to a person who should have his or her life enriched with knowledge. Neal provides a solid and succinct history of grits and a fabulous recipe for a grit soufflé that will save you for a brunch you just did not have time to plan for. Tomatoes also get page space in Bridgette A. Lacy’s “Matter Day,” an ode to the beauty of tomato sandwiches and the friendships they can foster. As well I love the hands-on nature of Bill Smith’s “Hard Crab Stew,” which includes this gem of an observation: “Today it seems I am the only person who remembers how to clean crabs at all. People vanish when it is time to take on this task. It’s best done outside, and it usually involves beer, a garden hose and mosquitos.” I love Randal Kenan’s writing, so as soon as I heard he was editing the volume, my antenna went up. Kenan grew up in Duplin County, North Carolina, and went on to teach and write at UNC Chapel Hill. His writing reflects his journey: an early awareness of the necessities of rural life, followed by a broader awareness as the world opened up for him through education and experience. He writes with a balance of the two worlds, and it is refreshing and insightful, not nostalgic nor mythologizing. Kenan has assembled a broad cross-section of voices to discuss our state’s food ways: eastern, western, mountain,
FEATURE coastal, old, young, male, female, prose, poets, LGBTQIA, immigrant, farmers, cooks, noncooks, even Jewish. But if any particular voice is lacking, it is that of a strong Native American tradition. In a state with eight tribes and one of the largest populations of Native Americans east of the Mississippi, foodways would seem to be an opportunity to discuss the preservation of culture in the face of remarkable odds. In his introduction Kenan does take on the stereotypes of Southern food—all fried—lots of sweet tea and little regard for nutrition. I opened the book and expected lots of love poems to pimiento cheese and fried chicken. It’s an interesting idea, trying to figure out how to assemble 30 voices to represent food in a state like ours. Mountain trout is not part of life for people here at the coast—anymore than crabs are for residents of Madison County. Most of my love of traditional Southern cooking I absorbed via osmosis from my friends and their families. Now, as an adult, my love of Sun Drop, Cheerwine, muscadine grapes, pecans, and collards, would perplex my parents, each of whom could not stomach any of the above. In his introduction Kenan also touches on the economic issues of food, disappearing farms—especially farms owned by African Americans—food deserts in urban areas and of course the ecological issues of industrial hog farming. But the writers tend to shy away from these worries and focus more on the positives of how food brings people together, in sharing meals and their lives. Many of the pieces made my stomach growl with hunger. However, the recipes in the book are clear, accessible and usually credited by name to the people the authors wrote about—which gives it a nice personal touch. Every recipe and most of the individual piece of writing made me hungry. I took two trips to the grocery store before I finished reading. Mastering the Art of French Cooking Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child Knopf, Vol 1 1961, Vol 2 1970 In the history of cookbooks, few have had the profound and lasting impact on American culture than “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” The signature cream-colored covers speckled with fleur de lys in red for volume one and blue for volume two are classy little homing beacons on a homecook’s shelf. It simultaneously tell others, they’re dealing with a serious cook, while reminding the cook he or she can attempt and succeed with recipes that intimidate them. Because, let’s be frank, these books tackle food that is intimidating. But it is also impressive, rewarding and down-right delicious. Americans tend to remember Julia Child wrote the books—
but they don’t remember her coauthors, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. Perhaps it is a bit of rooting for the home team, but one could also chalk that up to Child’s long-running cooking show that made her one of America’s foremost celebrity chefs. I mean, her kitchen is in the Smithsonian, for crying out loud. My edition, at least, does not have the splashy food photography of contemporary cookbooks—rather tasteful line drawings accompany the text and the emphasis is on the recipes themselves and technique. The importance of quality ingredients and proper tools is stressed. I first attempted to cook from this book while in college. I had some failed experiments—my lack of knife skills and poor-quality kitchen tools bear some but not all of the responsibility for the failures. If anything, the certainty with which the authors write is inspiring. They never doubt cooks can do this —and what is more, their lives will be richer and more worthwhile from it. That belief in readership has probably done more to keep these books in print than any of the recipes.
Come enjoy delicious food, waterfront dining and panoramic views of the best sunsets Wilmington has to offer! www.elijahs.com
2 Ann St. Wilmington, NC • 910-343-1448 WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 35
Select Indulgences Culinary calendar of events
~events & happenings~ ANTIQUITY DINNER Feb. 23, 6pm, $150: Prepared by Dean Neff of Pinpoint, a fivecourse dinner themed on local ingredients and historic recipes from the museum archive, including hors d’oeuvres, music, vintage cocktails, and wine. Email to make reservations: email@example.com. 503 Market St. www.bellamymansion.org
FULL BELLY FEAST Feb. 25, 6pm, $50: Food from Pine Valley Market, a variety of auction items, live music, and more, emceed by WECT’s Ashlea Kosikowski. All proceeds benefit Full Belly Project, which develops and creates the tools and devices that help rural communities around the world improve their economic situation. Coastline Convention Center, 501 Nutt St. www.fullbellyproject.org.
BACKYARD BBQ COOKOFF Mar. 4, 10am, free: Fundraiser for Step Up for Soldiers with more than two dozen culinary competitors; arts & crafts; raffles; and live music with Massive Grass (10am to 1pm) and Kenny Reeves and Trainwreck (2-5pm). Tickets can be purchased to sample the BBQ after the judging (11am to 1pm; $1 per taste cup). Carolina Beach Lake Park, Atlanta Ave. and S. Lake Park Blvd.
SMART START PLEDGE FOR CHILDREN'S CHAMPIONS Mar. 28, 7:30am: Features nCino CEO, Pierre Naude as keynote speaker. Mr. Naude highlights the role that quality early childhood experiences play in building our future workforce specifically in the fields of math and science. Annual fundraiser honoring individuals who make a difference in the lives of young children and their families. Call 910-815-3731 to reserve a seat. www.newhanoverkids.org. Hilton Wilmington Riverside, 301 N. Water St.
CAPE FEAR CRAFT & CUISINE Apr. 1, 6pm, $65: Features a craft beer and food pairing presented by the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance, with dishes from area’s best restaurants: manna, Cape Fear Seafood Co., Catch, and The District. Beers from local and regional breweries include Front St. Brewery, Waterline Brewing, Southern Pines Brewing, Ironclad, and Flytrap Brewing. Airlie Gardens, 300 Air36 DEVOUR | FALL 2016
SHAKESPEARE BRUNCH Mar. 19, noon - 2 p.m.: “Julius Caesar”—Enjoy brunch and an abridged reading of one of Shakespeare’s classic plays. Brunch and dessert, with choice of entrée, included in $20 ticket; drinks and gratuity not included. Portion of proceeds donated to Shakespearean e ducational outreach programs. Upcoming spring dates: Apr. 23, May TBD, Jun. 18. TheatreNOW, 19 S. 10th St. http://theatrewilmington.com lie Rd. http://capefearcraftandcuisine.com
HERB AND GARDEN FAIR Apr. 1 (9am) - 2 (10am), $5: Two-date event showcasing best herb and garden vendors, plus local artists, artisans and crafters. Food, concessions, kids activities, raffles, and more. Proceeds benefit historic Poplar Grove Plantation. www.poplargrove.org. 10200 US Hwy 17 North.
NC AZALEA FESTIVAL Feb. 25, 6pm, $50: Food from Pine Valley Market, a variety of auction items, live music, and more, emceed by WECT’s Ashlea Kosikowski. All proceeds benefit Full Belly Project, which develops and creates the tools and devices that help rural communities around the world improve their economic situation. Coastline Convention Center, 501 Nutt St. www.fullbellyproject.org.
CHOWDER COOKOFF Apr. 8, 11:30am, $6: Annual Pleasure Island event will showcase local chefs from participating restaurants highlighting their best bowl of red or white seafood soups and stews. Live music and kids activities, onsite vendors. Children under 13, free. No coolers or pets. www.pleasureislandnc.org. Carolina Beach Lake Park, Atlanta Ave. and S. Lake Park Blvd.
living and good nutritional choices. It can help build self-esteem, team building, and even motivate them to cook for you! 1 Bob Sawyer Dr.; 910-256-7925. www.townofwrightsvillebeach.com
KIDS COOKING CLUB Children Museum of Wilmington presents Kids Cooking Club with Mary Ellen on Tuesdays at 3:30pm. Please pre-register. Explore seasonal recipes and savor the flavor of your hard work. Kids Cooking Club is sponsored by Harris Teeter and held at 116 Orange St. www.playwilmington.org
PLEASURE ISLAND SEAFOOD, BLUES AND JAZZ FESTIVAL SEASONED GOURMET Apr. 23, 10am, $25-$60: The annual event will feature Johnny Lang and Samantha Fish headlining the event. Also, seafood, beer and KIDS COOKING CLASSES wine vendors, along with arts and crafts vendors. A bill of local and regional musicians will fill out the day. www.pleasureislandnc.org. Fort Fisher Air Force Rec Area, 119 Riverfront Rd.
ILM WINE AND FOOD FESTIVAL May 11-14, various venues, various pricing: The annual food and wine festival takes place over four days, featuring special wine dinners, a BBQ and bourbon Derby party, a grand tasting event, and bubbles, brews and street eats. Beers, wines, and bubbles will be sampled, along with decadent food throughout the weekend. Proceeds benefit Domestic Violence Shelter and Services. Tickets and info: www.wilmingtonwineandfood.com.
~classes, tastings & things~ CAPE FEAR WINE & FOOD CLUB The Seasoned Gourmet has been teaching cooking classes for over 15 years. They offer unique events for members and their guests, including cooking classes, wine-pairing classes, premium wine dinners, and free members-only events throughout the year. Members enjoy exclusive discounts from our host, The Seasoned Gourmet. Enjoy a 5 percent daily discount on all merchandise in their store, plus a 10 percent daily discount during classes that you attend. Also a special members-only discount wine during events: 15 percent off six or more bottles and 20 percent off 12 or more bottles. To reserve a seat in class or join, call 910-256-9488 or stop by The Seasoned Gourmet, 5500 Market St. ., #110. www. theseasonedgourmet.com. 910-256-9488
WINE NOT, IT’S FRIDAY Last Friday of the month, 6-8pm: Wine Not, It’s Friday! Signature wine tasting event and a taste of food and wine pairings. $5 donation benefits a local non-profit. Whole Foods at 3804 Oleander Dr. www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/wilmington
CULINARY CREATIONS CLASS Instead of trying to find a cooking class to meet your goals and ending up with too many cooks in the kitchen, consider having Culinary Creations design a cooking class for you and your family or friends to be held in the comfort of your own home. We will help you design a menu to focus on the dishes that intrigue you most. Prepare a meal from our menu selections or we can work together to customize a menu for you to learn to prepare and enjoy. And best of all, you and the other ‘students’ get to enjoy the fruits of your labor between each course! 910-538-2433. www.culinarycreationsonline.com
KIDS COOKING CLASSES Boys and girls, ages 8-10. Does your child love to cook? Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation has stirred up something just for them, a fun hands-on youth cooking class! This program aims to teach kids creative and simple recipes that will encourage healthy
Sherry Storms will be teaching basic baking techniques in combination with a variety of recipes, both traditional and unique just in time for the holidays. This session will build upon any budding chef’s skills and expand their repertoire. Session I (Nov. 3): Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing •Session II (Nov. 10): Chocolate Cupcakes with Oreo Whipped Cream Frosting • Session III (Nov. 17): Gingerbread People with Decoration • Session IV (Dec. 1): Mini Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizza. All classes run from 6-8pm. This series is for children 12 years and older. The Seasoned Gourmet, 5500 Market St. Ste. 110
CAPE FEAR WINE AND BEER Beer Church: Purchase select beer and keep your glass for free. 1st Mass starts, 1 p.m.; 2nd Mass, 8 p.m., Sunday, free. • Beer Flights, Massage and Monday Night NitroMassage Monday: 5-8 p.m., $10 for 10 minutes with our licensed therapist, Josh Lentz. Beer Flights: nine 5-ounce samples for $18. • Monday Night Nitro: $1 off nitrogen pours. Free. • BYOT (Bring Your Own Trivia): The next wave of pub trivia on Wednesdays. Prizes include gift certificates from local businesses, as well as beer from us. • Fridays $10 pitchers: Bartender’s choice. All day. Free wine tasting: from 5-7pm, with two whites and two reds. Free • Beer Infusement Thurs.: See what ingredients Randall the Enamel Animal is enhancing upon delicious beer. Free. 139 N. Front St.
PALATE Turntable Tues.: Bring your favorite vinyl, enjoy specials • Wed: Free tasting of wine from around the globe, hosted by a winery representative or vendor to teach you about the selections. Tasting wines offered at a discount, as well as an additional 10 percent off six packs and 15 percent off cases. • Sun: $6 mimosas. 1007 N. 4th St. www.palatenc.com
SILVER COAST WINERY Wine and beer tasting always available with inquiries. 6680 Barbeque Rd. Ocean Isle Beach. www.silvercoastwinery.com
FERMENTAL Free tasting every Friday, 6pm • Third Wednesday of each month feat. musical and brewing talents alongside an open mic night, as well as the opportunity for homebrewers to share, sample, and trade their creations: an evening of beer and an open stage. PA and equipment provided. All genres. All beer styles 910-821-0362 for details. Fermental, 7250 Market St.
FLYTRAP BREWING Fourth Friday Gallery Night, featuring new artists and exhibition every Fourth Friday of the month through 2016. • Food trucks and live music Thurs. through Sat., weekly. • $5 flight Sundays and $5 flight Tuesdays. 319 Walnut St. www.flytrapbrewing.com
FORTUNATE GLASS Free wine tasting, Tues., 6-8pm • Sparkling wine specials & discounted select bottles, Wed. and Thurs. • Monthly food/wine pairWINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 37
ing events. 29 S. Front St. www.fortunateglasswinebar.com
BREWER'S KETTLE Weekly live music, monthly food and wine and beer pairing events, wine tastings, and showcasing local breweries! 4718 Oleander Dr. 910-502-0333. www.bkwilmington.com
BOOKS, BEER, JAZZ Enjoy browsing our extensive book catalog and library while listening to live ambient jazz piano. Start out your weekend with a beer or glass of wine, while James Jarvis performs his jazz compositions for your listening pleasure. Live piano from 3pm, Sundays. Old Books on Front Street, 249. N. Front St.
A TASTING ROOM Thurs./Fri., 5pm: Our weekly wine tastings feature six selections for your tasting pleasure. Try before you buy to load up your home cellar, or choose your favorite wine from the lineup and purchase a glass to enjoy at our tasting bar or in our garden seating. Cheers! A Tasting Room, 19 S. 2nd St.
THE WINE SAMPLER Hosting free weekly tasting every Wednesday through Saturday. 1 percent discount on all tasting wines, all week. Wednesday-Friday: 3-7pm; Saturday: noon-7pm. 4107-C Oleander Dr. 910-796-WINE (9463). www.thewinesampler.com
BURNT MILL CREEK Thursday Night is Neighborhood Night at Burnt Mill Creek, with Steviemack’s International Food Company food truck. Bring friends for supper and a drink. Burnt Mill Creek, 2101 Market St.
WATERLINE BREWING Weekly live music, food trucks every Fri. and Sat., and new beer. 721 Surry St., under the Cape Fear Bridge. waterlinebrewing.com
SWEET N SAVORY CAFE Every Wednesday from 5-7pm, we break open our wine selection for you to taste. Our wine selection ranges from Napa valley, French Bordeauxs or great wines from Australia. 1611 Pavillion Place.
TACOS AND TRIVIA Every Wed., 8pm, at Capt’n Bills Backyard Grille. Bring your team! Stuffed tacos from 8-11pm for only $2 each. Other food and drink specials as well! 4240 Market St.
WHISKEY HOTDOG MYSTERY Whiskey Hotdog Mystery Music Wednesday at Juggling Gypsy, 1612 Castle St. Amazing hot dog creations from the Gypsy Kitchen, with $1 off all whiskeys every Wednesday. www.jugglinggypsy. com.
NONI BACCA WINERY
CITIZENS LOBBY DAY Mar. 1, all day: Detour Deli & Cafe is raising and donating money to stop gerrymandering and implementing redistricting reform. All profits from Detour T-shirt sales will go toward the cause. Owner Allister Snyder will be speaking with the executive director of Common Cause, which is promoting this event, to get more info on the bipartisan bill that will be introduced and an ongoing court case that is fighting for an independent, nonpartisan panel for redistricting. Register online at endgerrymanderingnow.org/lobbyday. 5-7pm, or Fri.-Sat., 10pm-midnight: $5 single plates. YoSake, 33 S. Front St.
WILMINGTON WINE SHOP Sample five new delicious wines we’ve brought in just for our customers during Free Friday Wine Tasting, 5-8pm. Have a bottle or glass of your favorite with friends afterwards in our cozy shop or on the back deck. We’ve got a fridge full of craft and micro-brews. 605 Castle St. 910-202-4749.
WILMINGTON BREWING CO. Firkin Fridays, 5:30pm • Sat.: Free brewing demos, 1:30pm • Also featuring food trucks and live music weekly. 824 S. Kerr Ave. 910392-3315
NEMA LOUNGE AND EATERY Thirsty Thursday Happy Hour every Thursday. $5, 9” pizza and $5 glass of select Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio. Traditional crust pizza, small 9” includes housemade roast balsamic tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan; other toppings extra. Dine in special only. • Martini Tastings, Fri. and Sat., 4-8pm. 5 tastings and an order of NeMa Fancy Fries, $20/person. NeMa Lounge & Eatery, 225 S. Water St. Chandler’s Wharf.
Tasting room open seven days a week, 10am-9pm (Mon.-Sat.) and 12-5pm (Sun.). Taste a flight of 6 or 9 wines; over 70 wines made on premise to sample at any time, served by the glass or the bottle. • Thurs.-Sat.: Specials at the bar on glasses and bottles of wine that run all day, but the crowd begins to gather around 7pm. Craft beer selection, too. We also make special label wines for weddings, corporate gifting, birthdays, reunions, etc. 910-397-7617.
$10, 5:30-7pm: Every Tues. and Wed.! Half-off craft cocktail list and select wines. Catch, 6623 Market St.
SMALL PLATES NIGHT Mon.: $25 6-course flight ($35 inc. 2 oz. wine pairing). Mon-Thurs., 38 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
Beer Bingo, Thursday nights. No charge for cards. Great prizes. Food and drink specials. • Every Friday, All You Can Eat oysters, shell on shrimp, fried shrimp, hushpuppies and slaw. $34.95. Local oysters. Capt’n Bills Backyard and Grille, 4240 Market St.
FRONT STREET BREWERY Every third Thursday, join us for The Wort Shop Thirsty Third Thursday. Our brewers will tap a new experimental brew that will be available in limited quantities for that day only. • Brewery tours,
daily, 3-5 p.m. Free tasting included! 3 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Learn how we brew our beer, about the brewing process and sample a few brews with one of our brewers. Sign up for a tour at the host stand. 9 N. Front St. www.frontstreetbrewery.com
TASTE CAROLINA FOOD TOURS Sample an eclectic assortment of downtown restaurants, enjoy food and drink, and meet some of the city’s best chefs. Public parking available. Saturday tours include a 2:15pm. Downtown Afternoon Tasting Tour ($55/person) and a 3:15pm. Downtown Dinner and Drinks Tour ($65/person). 10am. Farmers Market Tour ($75/person). Cooking class available. Private and custom tours are available any day or night of the week for groups of eight or more. Visit www.tastecarolina.net.
TASTING HISTORY TOURS Tasting History Tours of Pleasure Island; guided walking tours. $35 and up. Afternoon of delicious food and education. 910-622-6046. www.tastinghistorytours.com
PCJ ROASTERY TOUR Join us at Port City Java’s Corporate Headquarters for our monthly public roastery tour, coffee cupping and home brewing class! Learn how coffee is grown, harvested, processed and roasted through a tour of our facilities and see a formal coffee cupping to demonstrate the “taste of place” that makes each coffee so unique. See us demonstrate a few different brewing methods you can use to achieve that perfect PCJ cup at home. Tour groups are limited to six people. Tickets are available for $15/person. www. portcityjava.com
PORT CITY BREW BUS
most mornings, tending to the crops at The River Bluffs Organic Farm. Situated on 10 acres of land, The Farm utilizes sustainable growing methods so that all yielded produce can be tagged “certified organic.” Located just down the road from the entrance of River Bluffs, The Farm helps to fill the amazing menu at the neighborhood restaurant—Porches Cafe. River Bluffs, 3571 Hansa Dr. http://riverbluffsliving.com/saturday-farm-market.
PORT CITY SWAPPERS Port City Swappers is a monthly food and beverage swap where members of a community share homemade, homegrown, or foraged foods with each other. Swaps allow direct trades to take place between attendees, e.g., a loaf of bread for a jar of pickles or a half-dozen backyard eggs. No cash is exchanged, and no goods are sold. Diversify your pantry and go home happy and inspired while meeting your neighbors! facebook.com/PortCitySwappers
ILM VEGAN CARROT MOB Like a flash mob, the Wimington Vegan Carrot Mob chooses a restaurant to meet at and dine in for a night of fellowship and vegan meals. A location and time is chosen, and vegan diners show up and shows local restauratuers support from the vegan community in an effort to expand vegan menus. www.wilmingtonvegan.com
ILM VEGAN MENTOR PROGRAM The Wilmington Vegan Mentor Program ensures those who are new to veganism are provided with all the support and guidance they need. Volunteer mentors are paired with those who are making new food choices. They meet to talk and answer questions, go to the grocery store, discuss cookbooks, and explore local resources. www.wilmingtonvegan.com
Port City Brew Bus offers public brewery tours that are open to anyone 21 years or older. Eat a hearty breakfast before the tour. We will have pretzels, snacks, and water but there isn’t a stop for lunch. Visit three breweries to experience their facilities, understand the brewing process unique to their beers and enjoy samples of their offerings. $55. www.portcitybrewbus.com. 910-679-6586
~clubs & organizations~ FEAST DOWN EAST BUYING CLUB Enjoy the quality, value and convenience of the Feast Down East Buying Club. It costs nothing to join, and the benefits are immeasurable. Support your local farm families and community. Choose a pick-up spot, check out at the online cashier, and you are done! www.FeastDownEast.org
FARMERS’ MARKETS Fruits, vegetables, plants, herbs, flowers, eggs, cheese, meats, seafood, honey and more! Poplar Grove, April-Nov., Wed., 8am1pm. 910-686-9518. www.poplargrove.com • Riverfront Farmers’ Market open on Water St., downtown, every Sat., through Dec., 8am-1pm. www.wilmingtondowntown.com/farmers-market • Carolina Beach Farmer’s Market every Sat., May-Sept., 8am-1pm, around the lake in Carolina Beach. Free parking; www.carolinabeachfarmersmarket.com. • Wrightsville Beach Farmers’ Market, 21 Causeway Dr. Mon., 8am-1pm, first Mon. in May-Labor Day. • Town of Leland Farmers’ Market at Leland Town Hall, alternating Sundays, 11am-3pm, May-Aug. • Oak Island Farmers’ Market, Mon., April-Nov., 7am.-1pm. Middletown Park, Oak Island • Southport Waterfront Market, Wednesdays, May-Sept., 8am-1pm. Garrison Lawn in Southport, NC. • St. James Plantation Farmers Market, Thurs., May-Oct., 4-7 pm, park at Woodlands Park Soccer Field. • River’s Bluff, every Sat., 10am-3pm: Farmer Bill is up early WINTER 2017 | DEVOUR 39
SOUTHERN SOUL FOOD AT I T S F I N E S T
RECOGNIZED BY YAHOO TRAVEL as THE BEST BUFFET IN NORTH CAROLINA
BEST OF WE ALSO DO CATERING!
5559 Oleander drive • 910.798.2913 Wednesday-Saturday 11am-9pm • Sunday 11am- 8pm • Closed - Monday and Tuesday Visit our website - www.CaseysBuffet.com 40 DEVOUR | WINTER 2017
WINNER OF BEST BUFFET, FRIED CHICKEN AND SOUL FOOD