Amuse Bouche

by Brian Clarey

I’m eating Doritos as I write this column. And not just any Doritos. And I’m not just eating them. Right now I’m taking part in a brilliant marketing campaign by the triangular chipmaker, the X-13D Flavor Experiment. Maybe you’ve seen the black bags with the clinical-looking label on them (“Objective: Taste and name DORITOS® flavor X-13D”) but haven’t been able to bring yourself to pony up the $3.50 for the bag. Well that, my friends, is why I’m here. I’m trying them and I’ll tell you what I think at the end of the column.

For now let’s talk about other rumors and trends circulating around the culinary scene.

On the national front, the cupcake craze that has seen Manhattan folks standing in lines to purchase $4 mini-red velvet cakes has, according to a New York Times feature, finally spread like delicious, creamy frosting to glitzy Los Angeles, where I assumed cupcakes were scarce as fat people (a correlation?) and even then they were made from sprouted wheat or tofu. Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills is credited with starting the cupcake movement and has spawned the openings of several other grab-and-go bakeries like the Vanilla Bake Shop. It should catch on here in the Triad in five years or so.

And I’ve learned from my new favorite blog, which chronicles angry Post-its left for slovenly roommates and people who steal food from office refrigerators, that “Hot Pockets are totally the car radios of the communal freezer” due to the frequency with which they are pilfered and surreptitiously enjoyed. Good to know.

On the local scene we also have much to discuss.

This weekend the Grove Winery and Creek Side Winery (about four miles apart on the Guilford-Alamance line) work jointly to produce a Father’s Day Wine and Cheese Experience with bottles from the vineyards and six cheeses from Sleepy Goat Farms in Caswell County. One $18 ticket gets you in to both wineries all weekend long.

Earth Fare holds a couple installments of their culinary series: Caponata, a vegetarian eggplant, tomato and pepper relish from Sicily will be explored on Wednesday at noon, and Friday evening at 7 p.m. there will be an outdoor demonstration of grilled tofu steaks.

And a crustacean near and dear to my heart, the crawfish, will have its day on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. as the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market celebrates Crawfish Day. Look for North Carolina crawfish sold raw or boiled in a broth of spicy hot goodness (hopefully there will be some potatoes, corn, garlic, mushrooms and maybe an artichoke or two in the boil). Suck heand, pinch tails, all that.

Also the Twin Cities RibFest happens this week, Thursday through Saturday, featuring live music, crafts and meat on the bone from six different rib purveyors at the corner of 2nd and Marshall streets in downtown Winston-Salem. Chomp.

Now back to the Doritos.

The generic label on the front of the bag offers one clue as to the flavor of these mystery chips: “Tasting notes: All-American Classic.” That, combined with the flavors I can discern, leads me to believe that these are cheeseburger-flavored chips. But the notes are a bit out of harmony, with inappropriate characters coming to the fore. My suggestion for the name of this groundbreaking chip? Ketchup.