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Amuse Bouche

by Brian Clarey

Some people will eat anything.

Witness the annual Nut Fry, held earlier this month at Mama’s Bar & Grill in Elderon, Wis. The event, also known informally as the “testicle festival,” is based on a peculiar local delicacy. The gonads of bulls, sheep and goats are breaded or batter dipped and then deep fried, and sometimes served in a sandwich with tartar sauce. More than 300 people showed up this year and consumed about 100 pounds of the stuff.

Some people will drink anything.

Absinthe, the favored spirit of Oscar Wilde, Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso and traditionalist hipsters everywhere, was banned in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration in 1912 due to a pesky little compound called thujone, rumored to have hallucinogenic properties. But a chemist from New Orleans has developed a thujone-free absinthe that has been approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The spirit, in case you don’t know, is infused with anise, fennel and wormwood, among other spices and herbs.

Some people will smoke/snort/shoot anything.

Enterprising methamphetamine chemists have begun introducing flavors into their recipes for the illegal street drug. Chocolate, peanut butter, cola, cherry and orange flavored meth has been seized by police in drug raids since January 2007, when a batch of “Strawberry Quik” was found in a gang member’s apartment in Carson City, Nev.

And the legions of franchise eatery fans in the Triad should know that US restaurant rating and review giant Zagats has released their estimation of the chain restaurant market in a survey co-sponsored by the “Today” show. Top overall in the Mega-Chain category went to Wendy’s, with Subway and Pizza Hut rounding out the field.

On to our local happenings. Panera Bread, Chik-fil-A and Chipotle, respectively, took the top three honors for smaller chains. And the best full-service chain restaurants were Outback Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel and Red Robin.

Now on to our local culinary happenings.

Earth Fare comes through with a couple installments of their culinary series: On Wednesday aspiring kitchen badasses will learn to prepare the Asian Escape salad and on Thursday will be a lesson in homemade hummus.

Slow Food Piedmont will host a field trip to Dugspur, Va. for the Spring Festival at Foggy Ridge Cider with music, crafts and pairings of different ciders with local cheeses. RSVP at lponeill@slowfoodpiedmont.org to secure a seat for the ride our. Note: Foggy Ridge makes hard cider, so teetotalers beware.

And on Monday, Memorial Day, the Grove Winery will hold Swirlfest, an all-day affair with music from Tracy Earl Welliver and the Have a Nice Day Project.

The next day will be a meeting of the Deep Roots Market board of directors at 6 p.m. For more information call 336.292.9216.

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