Monthly Archives: June 2011

Food Trucks On Charlotte Talks

Photo Courtesy: Jolie Myers/Marketplace

Got a hankerin’ for some fast food? No, not that kind… food trucks are making it big here and across the country. Serving everything from hot dogs to gourmet fare, you can find just about anything from these kitchens-on-wheels. Charlotte has been slightly behind, with food truck scenes booming in cities like Portland, L.A. and New York, of course. But we’re catching up, with events like Chow Down Uptown – food truck rallies held in uptown Charlotte. The next one is slated for July 21st on 7th Street. Catch up on the food truck scene in our fair city with a quick listen to this Charlotte Talks show on the subject. We spoke with regular radio foodie Peter Reinhart, Chef-on-Assignment at Johnson and Wales, along with Heather Shouse, the author of Food Truck: Recipes and Dispatches From the Best Kitchens On Wheels. Listen to the show here or download the podcast.

CNN  |  Can a food truck change a neighborhood [features Charlotte and Chow Down Uptown]

Charlotte Food Trucks on Twitter:
(many trucks tweet their location so you know where to find them)

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Drinking Sustainably

What’s that in your wine glass?

Do you know as much about what you drink as you do about what you eat?  Many foodies consider themselves to be connoisseurs of wine, though what they are swirling contains additives that they would never find acceptable in their food.  If you don’t know your wine maker then you don’t know what is in your wine, because currently there are no ingredients labeling requirements in the industry.

As the practices of industrial wine producers come to light, awareness is growing about wine that is produced sustainably, organically, and bio-dynamically.  Winemakers who embrace the art of viticulture vs. the technology are still in the minority, but there are many good choices if you either align yourself with a wise sommelier like Chris Woodrow, the Vinmaster, or do a little research.

Winemaker Tony Coturri

In a culture that values consistent product, bio-dynamically produced wines are anything but.  Because chemical inputs are shunned, they vary greatly from vintage to vintage.  During his recent trip to Charlotte I had the opportunity to share a front porch visit with Tony Coturri to hear more firsthand about his legendary wine making.  His wines have but one ingredient:  grapes.  Fermented with natural yeast. A novel concept?  It shouldn’t be but it is the exception rather than the norm.

In North Carolina there are many wineries farming grapes and doing so with great success.  The climate here makes dealing with rot a challenge, but several wineries have sustainable operations, including McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks and Carolina Heritage Vineyard and Winery. Owl’s Eye and RagApple Lassie are also very good choices.  Sustainability in wine making can mean lots of different things, including considerate water use and packaging, or using solar energy.  But at the end of the day, what is in the bottle matters most.

Sipping wine is such a civilized thing to do.  It’s important to make choices that protect the environment too.  I’ll drink to that.

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Farmer’s Market Surprise: Opera With Your Tomatoes

By: David Boraks, DavidsonNews.net

Shoppers at the Davidson Farmer’s Market got a bonus with their local berries, meats and veggies Saturday morning: a menu of arias and duets by singers from Opera Carolina. The surprise performance was one of a series of “Random Acts of Culture” organized by the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte.

Baritone John Fulton sings for farmer's market shoppers Saturday. More photos below. (David Boraks/DavidsonNews.net)Shortly after 9 a.m., as folks filled shopping bags and pushed strollers, baritone John Fulton stepped out in front of a table of red tomatoes and began singing “The Toreador Song” from Bizet’s “Carmen.” He stopped shoppers in their tracks – at one pointing climbing onto a wall and, at another, grabbing a bright yellow summer squash and singing to it.

It was a busy day at the market and the shoppers and farmers seemed mostly pleased with the unexpected encounter.

“I always wanted to be around for one of these,” one smiling shopper told soprano Gina Gutierrez of Matthews, after she sang “Mio babbino caro (My dear Papa)” from Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi.”

Beekeeper Johnny Elliott listened to the music from behind his table of honey. “I tell you, that opera’s a little pizzazz-y. I like that. It’s great,” he said. “That’s pretty neat. Where else could you find that, but Davidson.”

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Pie: Why We Need it Now More than Ever

The contest was about to begin. Eight gorgeous, glistening pies. Six novice judges. A cluster of bakers, each hoping for a win, and a roomful of pie lovers.

The judges looked nervous. Baking is an art, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes this blueberry the best or that peach the pleasing-est from a table of near pie-perfection.

Why are we passionate about pie? Is it the crust, the filling, the flavor; the combination of all three – or something harder to put into words?

For guidance, a few weeks earlier I’d met up with Gina Hyams, author and creator of Pie Contest in A Box: Everything You Need to Host a Pie Contest. Over cappuccinos in a busy New York café, she shared her wisdom.

“There’s a saying in the pie world: ‘Pie = love,’” said Hyams. Then she dispelled some of the myths associated with the gooey sweetness of pie. “People assume it’s ‘fuddy-duddy,’ mid-western. That’s not true, because of the renaissance of local foods.”

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A Foodie In China

Suzhou fish tanks in Chinese supermarket

By: WFAE’s Roger Sarow

Our WFAE food fans  recently reported on a foodie road trip to Shelby for barbecue.

I can recap a foodie road trip, extended version.

I just returned from a three-week trip to Beijing, Nantong, Suzhou, and Shanghai, China.  My wife, a professor at Winthrop University, was teaching class at the University of Nantong, and I was a tag-along.

If you want to learn about a city, try visiting one of its big supermarkets. This photo (above) shows the fish supply at a major supermarket in the Henderson Centre Mall in Beijing. This was close to the main Beijing train station—as you can imagine a bustling locale around the clock.

This was my first trip to China. I was prepared to see a Communist country, replete with drab architecture, state-owned stores and drab displays of the most basic consumer goods.

Instead, in this (admittedly tourist-ready) section of refurbished Beijing, the stores were exploding with goods.

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