Amuse Bouché

by Brian Clarey

Regular readers of this space know that in my mid-life efforts to get my gut under control I occasionally swear off fast food – McDonald’s in particular – with the qualifier that hot dogs don’t count.

But last week the Golden Arches unveiled a new item, the Southern-style chicken sandwich, and I figured I should shoot over and check it out, because, you know, it’s for work.

The sandwich is an absolute rip-off of the Chik-fil-A: a simple fried chicken breast on a bun with nothing else save for a couple pickle chips. And I think it’s better. The meat is a large breast of chicken – no shredded and formed parts, nothing like that stuff they use for the McChicken – with a crispy, homestyle breading. The yeast bun is fluffy and soft, and I am thankful to report that there is never even a mention of mayonnaise. McDonald’s never understood mayonnaise; they usually slather on about a quarter-inch on every sandwich that gets it.

Anyway, the Southern-style chicken sandwich is a winner.

Also: I got a sample of the house blend from my friends DJ and Jennifer McKie, owners of Kernel Kustard in Winston-Salem. The coffee will provide the backbone for their newest concept Brew Nerds, located adjacent to the custard place on Fox Trot Court. I love the concept: scientifically brewed coffee served by real nerds – pocket protectors, taped glasses, knee socks, you name it – and bonus points for calling the frozen drinks “Swirlies.” I’ll be by to check it out soon.

Over in Greensboro, on Sunday at noon, area restaurateurs are creating unique soups to dish out at Lunch by the Ladle in the Empire Room. A fundraiser for the Family Life Council, the event includes soups created by 1618 West Seafood Grill, 223 South Elm, Bert’s Seafood Grille, Four Winds Café, Giovanni’s, Hogan’s Groovy Gourment, Jason’s Deli, Lucky 32, Marisol Bistro, Natty Greene’s, Pastabilities, Taste of Thai, the Painted Plate, Liberty Oak and Undercurrent Restaurant, according to a press release. Call 336.333.6890 ext. 223 for ticket info.

EarthFare holds an installment of its culinary series on Wednesday at noon, one particularly in tune with the season. Learn what to do with all the spring asparagus that’s ready to be grilled, sautéed or broiled.

I’ve always said that the most amazing thing about asparagus is not how bad it makes your pee smell, but how fast it gets to work. Anything that putrid, however, has got to be good for you.

You can pick some up at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market on Saturday during the Triad’s Largest Yard Sale, starting at 6 a.m. and running until the market closes.

One more bite? Another list of the worst foods in America came out last month, this time put out in a new book called Eat This, Eat That by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding. Among the worst: Pepperidge Farm Roasted Chicken Pot Pie (64 grams of fat), Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll (813 calories) and Chili’s Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie with vanilla ice cream (1,600 calories, the rough equivalent of three Big Macs).