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Food Writing

The Dish - Restaurants anticipate an uptick in business

Star News Online, published: Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 8:32 a.m.

Fast-approaching spring – the season's first day is Sunday – started sending signals of rebirth a few weeks ago as restaurant owners and food merchants began telling me about their renewed, and growing, sense of optimism.

Even with relentlessly rising gas prices and anticipated food cost increases, many owners and staff I've talked to say they're looking forward to a better year after being battered for what feels like forever since the recession's 2008 start.

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The Down East Lemon Pie at Capt. Bill's Waterfront Restaurant in Morehead City, North CarolinaDown East Classic

Our State North Carolina, May 2010
Photography by Allison Breiner Potter

Cool and tart, and with a fluffy topping, lemon pie at Capt. Bill’s Waterfront Restaurant in Morehead City continues to be a hometown favorite.

It’s been around for 72 years. So, yes, things have changed. At one point, it lured people with a sign promising the comfort of “air conditioning,” something other places couldn’t offer at the time. Various owners have tweaked it, redecorated it, and reinvented it. It has touched the lives of locals, visitors, and even a president. It even burned down. Read full article >

Lawson's cool tea sandwiches at Bellamy Mansion.Port City Foodies - Mos def not Grandma’s tea sandwiches

Star News Online, March 22nd, 2011

Spring is here, the Azalea Festival is on the way and wedding and baby shower season has arrived. All of that means tea sandwiches are bound to appear at garden soirées, but the nibbles don’t have to be those fussy stacks Grandma used to make.

During a special tea to help celebrate Bellamy Mansion’s recent Art of the Table fundraiser, I met an unlikely tea sandwich specialist: Blockade Runner Beach Resort executive chef Mark Lawson. Read full article >

Grape Expectations
Celebrate the fall harvest with Tuscan flatbread

Culinate, October 1, 2007

“In Italy, we don’t have Thanksgiving. Instead, it’s the time of the grapes,” my friend Angelo Ciardella told me when I called to ask about schiacciata con l’uva, a light and chewy Tuscan flatbread bursting with the sweetness of grapes.

Ciardella is a cooking teacher and retired restaurateur who loves focaccia, that popular Italian flatbread best known in its savory forms: sprinkled with cheese, dotted with garlic, and brushed with olive oil. On his latest autumn trip home to Lucca, a town in the heart of Tuscany, his sister teased him about his habit of walking down the street while nibbling focaccia. Read full article >

These drinks pack a punch

Special to Metromix, February 23, 2011

Sherbet green, fizzy and frilly or flaming red, funky syrup. That was punch at yesteryear’s bridal showers and rowdy college parties.

Don’t confuse it with today’s fashionable flowing bowls.

Savvy mixologists are dropping ladles into au courant mixes that, for all their style, make patrons dipping punch feel at home. “It’s a way of bonding when you’re sharing something,” Jazz Kitchen bar manager Lori Allee said.

Certainly, comfort is bliss in these trying economic times, but there is no denying that punch is more cool than cozy. In fact, “punch service” is one of the top bar trends of 2011. Read full article >

Secrets: Muddy’s Coffee House

Specialty Coffee Retailer, January 2011

Jacksonville, N.C., is a blue-collar, military town full of franchises and big-box stores. Yet, you’ll find some of the state’s best coffee here – and it’s not from a corporate retailer.

A robust aroma fills homespun Muddy’s Coffee House, barely noticeable in a strip mall across the highway from massive New River Marine Corps air station. Inside, ex-Marine Tony Waters and staff are adept at everything from a corto to an Americano. That’s because Waters is as devoted to the perfect cup of joe as he was to his military service.

Tony, who owns the shop with wife Valerie, not only brews delectable coffee but buys the best arabica beans directly from dealers and then roasts them himself at Muddy’s. Read full article >

The Dish - Le Catalan celebrates decade of cooking

Star News Online, February 17, 2011

Roasty aromas swirl from the Le Catalan kitchen and around owners Marie and Pierre Penegre, who lounge as comfortably in a booth as they would at home. Copious laughter seasons their banter. Different but in sync, the pair’s relationship displays the flexibility a successful restaurant requires.

While the Great Recession claimed many shops bigger and bolder than Le Catalan, this little French gem, 224 S. Water St. in downtown Wilmington, is celebrating a prosperous decade in business.