Amuse Bouche

by Brian Clarey

Here’s something that fans of dubious meat sandwiches should know: The McRib, McDonald’s concession to barbecue culture, is back. I know: The McRib amounts to blasphemy in North Carolina, and truth be told, I once got a nasty case of food poisoning from one of them. But if I’m being honest (and if I’m not, then what’s the point?), it was actually a McRib Junior that made me so gut-wrenchingly sick. And it hasn’t turned me off the sandwich. In fact, I polished one off just before I started to write this column, purchased from the McDonald’s at the Adams Farm Shopping Center, which, it should be noted, is now a McCafe with an expanded menu of coffee drinks.

In other franchise news, Starbucks will be offering a primer to the 2008 elections in all its stores beginning Thursday. Put together by Good magazine, which has an emphasis on philanthropy and altruism, it will enlighten latte lovers on issues like education, health care and energy.

If that doesn’t do it for you, there’s plenty brewing locally to wet your whistle. On Saturday, the BOOKMARKS Book Festival in Winston-Salem’s Bethabara Park will focus on great literature and non-fiction, to be sure, but there will also be a Food For Thought culinary tent, with readings by authors of cookbooks, cooking demonstrations in the on-site kitchen and more than a little bit of sampling. See www.bookmarksbookfestival.

org for more information. Also on Saturday and bleeding over into Sunday is the Crafts in the Grove celebration at the Grove Winery. There will be arts and crafts, to be sure, but also demonstrations, tastings, food, horse-drawn carriage rides and a chance to taste the grapes grown right there at the vineyard. Check the website,, for more details.

And in slow-food news, Saturday sees the 6th annual Farm Fest, held at Rising Meadow Farm, which is located between Climax and Liberty. Insert your own Patrick Henry joke here. The festival bills itself as “a celebration of local fiber and food,” with eats, animals, vendors and music. See www.rising, for more details. And Farmers’ Appreciation Day at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, which was supposed to be held last weekend, has been postponed until Oct. 11. On Tuesday at Greensboro’s Earth Fare will be the next installment of its Getting to Know Your Body series, focusing on weight management. Allison Scott, naturopath and acupuncturist, will instruct on “barriers to weight loss and how to easily remove them.” The lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. And according to New York Times Chinese food expert Jennifer 8. Lee, the Manhattan cupcake craze is winding down. Which is funny because around here it is just starting to take off.