Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Sour Day in Pickleville

Atherton Market's Pickle Man, Bill Averbach

“Have a sour day!” If you’ve been to the farmers market at Atherton Mill recently, you may have heard this exhortation shouted out from a pleasant voice. “It’s a sour day in Pickleville!” Bill Averbach says from behind his colorful stand, handing a huge dill pickle to a tiny girl who wraps both hands around it and bites at it until it’s all gone.

Written in chalk on a board above the stand is, “Pickleville- Not the best…the FINEST!” Another board lists the varieties of pickles that Bill has today: dill, garlic, hot garlic; samples of the different kinds are displayed in front of him. Born to an Eastern European family in Philadelphia, Bill says pickling was something he grew up with. “Everyone in my family makes festering vegetables,” he jokes.

When I ask what brought him to Charlotte, Bill answers, “A car,” with his good-natured laugh quickly following. Turns out, this man has pretty much done everything in every place before becoming the pickler extraordinaire. Along the Gulf Coast and in Austin, Bill has been a restaurant manager, commercial fisherman, bicycle shop owner, pizza maker, shrimper… and of course musician.

Pickling is great, but Bill’s real passion is music, and he plays with different musicians around town. Bam-Jazz is one group that describes itself as “jazz, blues, Cajun and more,” and then there’s the Carolinas Klezmer Project, which plays Yiddish music. Bill says it’s a lot of the same guys in both bands, but they’re separate projects because “It’d be hard to book a klezmer band in a jazz club, you know?”

Bill compares the art of pickling to the task a short order cook has to get everything ready at the same time. Salt, temperature and spices all have to come together in the right way to create a good pickle. Kosher-style dill pickles are still the most popular thing Bill sells, and one taste of their unique flavor explains why (this from a girl who didn’t think she even liked dill pickles).

If you just think of pickles as a garnish for a sandwich or a topping for a hamburger, Bill has other ideas.  Breads are one of the unexpected places he suggests incorporating the item. For a regular loaf of bread with a kick, he suggests making the dough as you normally would, then rolling small pieces of dill pickle into the dough before baking it. Rye bread is also a good fit for pickles, Bill says. Substitute about one cup of pickle juice for water and omit the salt for tasty, unique version of the bread.



Filed under At the Market, Quirky

You’re Doing It Wrong

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The New York Times says you are making your biscuits wrong. Of course, if you bake biscuits, it’s highly likely you have heard this before. After all, everyone has their own way – especially when they come from different parts of the country or the world. From Sam Sifton of The New York Times:

You need to make them right or not make them at all, and most people will tell you most of the time that however you are making biscuits, you are making them wrong. This is true especially if you are not from the South or if you are from England, where biscuits are hard and dry and sit on the dividing line between cookie and cracker.

Whether you take the advice or leave it, The Charlotte Observer’s own Kathleen Purvis says “most of biscuit success is in how gently you handle the dough, and that’s just practice.” Easy enough. Or is it?

Read the Times article here.

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Pastas For Summer

Linguine With Slow-Cooked Zucchini, Basil And Cream

It’s summer – hot and humid with highs in the 90s most days. If you’re craving some pasta, but can’t quite stomach a steaming plate of heavy red, meat sauce and spaghetti, you’re in luck. NPR has some delicious-looking summer pasta recipes to help take the heat off.

Domenica Marchetti, author of several cookbooks including The Glorious Pasta of Italy utilizes the fresh veggies and herbs of the season in recipes like BLT BucatiniFusilli With Fresh Herbs And Chopped OlivesCavatappi Alla Siciliana, and Linguine With Slow-Cooked Zucchini, Basil And Cream (pictured above).

Find the full article and recipes here and we share a few of her tips below.

BLT Bucatini

Summer Pasta Tips

  • Be sure to cut vegetables, such as eggplant or zucchini, into bite-size pieces so that they will cook uniformly and mix well with pasta.
  • Don’t undercook the vegetables. Pasta with summer vegetables is not the same as pasta salad. Vegetables that are undercooked will not absorb oil, tomatoes, or pasta water and will not be the right consistency to properly meld with and flavor the noodles.
  • Don’t forget summer herbs. Fresh basil, mint, thyme and oregano are just a few of summer’s prolific herbs. They enhance the flavor of summer vegetables and are delicious tossed with pasta.
  • Add cheese. Almost all summer vegetables pair beautifully with Italian cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino romano, so don’t forget to add a generous sprinkle of grated cheese as you are tossing your pasta and vegetables together.

More from WFAEatsRecipe for Veggie Ricotta Pasta (pictured below)

Veggie Ricotta Pasta

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Make Your Own Harry Potter Butterbeer

The last of the Harry Potter movies is out. We celebrate by whipping up a batch of the book’s sweet, buttery beverage – Butterbeer.

I’m not a Harry Potter fanatic. I like the movies and getting caught up in the story is fun, but I would never dress up as Hermione and wait in line for a midnight showing. However, you may question the true level of my fanaticism when I tell you that I have made butterbeer. And not just one kind, but three different recipes.

I love beer. And for all intents and purposes, I love butter. The unlikely combination of the two is intriguing and dare I say, magical. It simply had to be done. For the record, there is no alcohol in it but there is butter – lots of butter.

Serving up Butterbeer at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter

If you’re not familiar with this fictional concoction or Harry Potter, then you’re probably not reading this anyway. But for the uninitiated, this is a foamy, buttery beverage that the characters frequently drink at their wizard-y watering hole. Until the Harry Potter theme park opened in Orlando, the drink only lived in J.K. Rowling’s imagination. But now the park sells the stuff as a kid-friendly thirst- and curiosity-quenching novelty (probably at a cool $7.99 a goblet). The internet however, is swirling with tons of recipes based on what the park sells. We tried a few of them…

(Butterbeer recipes ‘below the fold.’)

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Filed under Quirky, Recipe

Homegrown Southern Hostess Gift

Summer weekends are made for celebrating and a homegrown hostess gift is the perfect way to show some southern hospitality! Taking advantage of our garden’s plethora of cucumbers, I made a large batch of cucumber pickles.

Quick tip: Be sure to reference your cucumber variety for their growing needs and don’t be tempted to let them stay on the vine too long. Cucumbers are ready to be picked and have the best flavor when they are 5-8″. I learned the hard way — the larger cucumber in the photo was very bitter and dissatisfying.

Easy to prepare, cucumber pickles’ cool, crisp bite are a perfect antidote to sweltering temperatures.  Use as a garnish, add to chutney, atop grilled fish, the possibilities are endless. Perfectly portable within a ubiquitous southern favorite- the Ball Jar, cucumber pickles are my favorite way to say thank you to all my summer hosts.
(Recipe for cucumber pickles ‘below the fold.’)

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Filed under At the Market, Recipe, The Foodie's Garden

Gardner’s Barbeque Tastes Like Home To Me

By: WFAE’s Bryan Talbott

“There’s no place like home” and there are some things we find back home that we can’t get wherever we’ve ended up. One of those things for me is Gardner’s Barbeque.

I’m from Rocky Mount NC and eastern style bbq is a significant part of life there. Whether it’s a wedding reception, after a funeral, or some other get together, pulled pork with a vinegar and red pepper sauce will be present. I’ve always enjoyed eastern North Carolina bbq (and Gardner’s Restaurant,) but I never really appreciated it until I moved to Charlotte.

I remember driving past Gardner’s (GAHD nah’s – they don’t pronounce “R’s” in my old neck of the woods) the last time I was in Rocky Mount visiting my parents. After experiencing the amazing smell of fried chicken wafting from the back of the restaurant I declared, “That’s it! We’re having Gardner’s for dinner. I don’t care what anyone says!”  No coercing was needed to persuade my wife and parents regarding this decision.

It’s not just the bbq and fried chicken that makes my mouth water when I think about this eastern North Carolina institution. It’s also the green beans, collards, slaw, squash, black eyed peas, Brunswick stew, hush puppies, chicken pastry, fish and shrimp. Can’t decide what you want? No problem. Gardner’s also has a buffet.

Food plays an important role in our lives. It’s part of who we are, how we come together and where we come from. Gardner’s Barbeque tastes like home to me.


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Filed under Food, Restaurants

Pomegranate… Molasses? Yes!

If you’ve spent any considerable time in the South, chances are you’re familiar with the dark, thick and nutritious world of molasses. The molasses that is commonly used in the US is normally made from sugarcane or sugarbeets. But when you visit the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, you will find a variety of fruit that is used for molasses: grapes, carobs, mulberries, and my personal favorite, pomegranate.

Most types of molasses have a dense, sweet flavor that makes them worthy ingredients for desserts or dishes with sweet notes. Pomegranate molasses is different. As a fruit, pomegranate is all good for you with its antioxidant boosting, cholesterol and blood pressure reducing effects.  However, what draws me to this molasses (which is a staple in Turkish cuisine) is not its potential health benefits but its biting, tangy yet sweet flavor! It’s flexible enough to adapt to many recipes. When used correctly, it can give you that subtle sour taste without being overwhelmingly tart.

What can you do with it? You can drizzle your summer tomatoes and salads with extra virgin olive oil and dash of pomegranate molasses. Or you can combine with spices and brush it on your meat as a marinade before grilling. Or use it to enrich rice, grain salads, and sauces. Here I am sharing with you my favorite grain salad, kısır (Turkish bulgur salad – pictured), dressed with olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and loaded with herbs. Give it a try. You might just find that pomegranate molasses will become your own “secret” ingredient, for use in all your dishes!
(Recipe for Kisir “below the fold.”)

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