Amuse Bouche

by Brian Clarey

Remember Farm Aid? It’s one of those things that came about in the ’80s that actually had some staying power… unlike, say, the mullet or the Safety Dance.

It began with a trio of artists – Neil Young, John Cougar (before he Mellencamped himself) and everyone’s favorite grandpa Willie Nelson – and an effort to promote small family farms, which back in those heady days were just beginning to succumb to the prevalence of big factory farm operations.

Through yearly concerts the non-profit has raised more than $30 million, and this year’s event takes place Sunday and includes stalwarts Dave Matthews, Counting Crows, Gregg Allman, Matisyahu and Merle Haggard.

But hold the phone a minute… the damn thing goes down on Randalls Island, a slip of land separating Harlem from the Bronx, Queens and Rikers Island in New York City. New York City!

The only “family farms” I know of in Gotham involve people who grow weed in their closets.

If you really want top get a taste of the fall harvest, North Carolina is the place to be, starting with Farmers Appreciation Day at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market on Saturday with live music (no Willie Nelson… sorry) and tastings.

On the same day is Farm Fest 5, starting at 10 a.m. at Rising Meadow Farm in Randolph County, billed as “A celebration of the Fiber Arts and ‘Good Living.'” The event features fiber artists and animals, sheep dog demonstrations and locally-raised food. Try the lamb.

Also on Saturday Earth Fare throws its hat into the fresh produce ring with a Saladmaster Cooking School, which sounds suspiciously like a sales pitch for Saladmaster fine cookware, but there does seem to be free food involved. The event begins at 11 a.m.

And the Winston-Salem Downtown Farmers Market will have a cookbook display and sale when they open on Tuesday morning.

Also of local interest: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, recently awarded 47 Awards of Excellence by Wine Spectator magazine, has launched, a website which allows in-depth exploration of some of the vineyards who contribute to the restaurant’s 100-strong wines by the glass list. The site’s homepage offers a lush panorama of the Carneros District of Sonoma, Calif. and is chock-full of videos, interviews, descriptors and terms that should tell you everything you need to know about some of these featured wines. Except, you know, how they taste.

But the restaurant has been committed to public service since they opened over a year ago, and on Wednesday will offer discounts on bottles and glasses from their list as well as complimentary hors d’oeuvres from 5 p.m. until 8, with proceeds going to the Junior League of Greensboro.

Drinking is more fun when it’s for a cause, don’t you think?