Amuse Bouche

by Brian Clarey

The Fourth of Julycrept up pretty quickly this year, but sure enough by the weekend theair will be filled with fireworks and the heady whiff of lighter fluidas its sprayed over the coals in preparation for a big meat feast. Tellme you’re not going to eat at least some charred animal remains thisFourth, and I’ll tell you you’re helping the terrorists. To thatend, area Harris Teeter grocery stores have slashed prices on ribs,among other holiday delicacies, and offered a rib recipe of their ownat – though, you should be warned, the procedure callsfor oven cooking and not pit cooking. I mean, really… it’s okay, Iguess, to start your ribs off in the oven, but they absolutely must befinished off on the grill. Come on, people. Chances are goodthat you’ll be eating a hot dog or two this weekend, as well. And ifyou’re one of those who favor "staycations" this year, you might wantto take the short hop to Durham this weekend to check out Nineteen atthe Washington Duke Inn & Golf Course, where all summer longthey’re celebrating the many incarnations of the noble tubesteak. Eachweek the grill presents a dog from a different region: the New YorkStreet Cart Dog, a kosher wiener with onion sauce and brown mustard;the Chicago Red Hot, a Vienna frankfurter with tomatoes, relish,pickles, peppers, onions and celery salt; the Milwaukee Brat withstadium sauce, saurkraut and mustard; a Fenway Frank. for more info and directions. The GroveWinery holds an Independence Day celebration on its patio Friday, whichwill undoubtedly feature some of their award-winning wines on thecheap. I recommend their strawberry wine – it’s not just for teenagersanymore. And Undercurrent Restaurant will be closed on Fridaynight so the staff can go wild in the streets. Or something. But theirJuly pairing menu will run as scheduled – three courses, each with itsown taste of appropriate vintage. I like the looks of thebutter-poached halibut with parsnips, wild spinach and preserved lemoncream matched with a 2003 Chateau St. Robert Graves Bordeaux from thewhite menu and, from the red, I get turned on by the bacon-wrappedcountry patÃ’© with pistachis, whole-grain mustard and black currantpuree paired with a Childress Vineyards Pinnacle-Meritage. Yowza. Onemore bite: Wal-Mart and Costco have been selling milk in new gallonjugs that are cheaper, better for the environment and keep the milkfresher, according to the New York Times Dining & Wine section.And, according to, "they kind of suck at pouring milk."Nothing to cry over, but it’s yet another reason to cut back on dairy.