Amuse Bouche’

by Brian Clarey

I noticed new business entities the other day as I drove down High Point Road: The complex which once housed Hooter’s and the Howard Johnson Hotel now wears signage indicating the future presence of a Doubletree Hotel with an adjacent J. Butlers,

Unless you are a fan of chicken wings and, um, owls, you probably see the renovation as an upgrade.

Either way, change is afoot. A time to sow, a time to reap… like that.

As I write this it’s plenty hot outside, but trust me when I say harvest season is on in North Carolina. Sure, the leaves have yet to take their suicide plunge to earth, but they are getting all kinds of crispy up there on the branches.

The pumpkins are starting to reach maximum swellage, which is nice I guess, but after you turn one into a pie, make a puree soup out of another and then carve a gruesome face into a third, you’ve pretty much taken the whole ride. Or am I wrong about this? Anyone out there with a pumpkin recipe that does not involve pies, soups or bashing the things on the street, drop me a note at

And yes, I already know about the seeds.

The season also reminds me that there is a Whole Foods Market in Winston-Salem (41 Miller St.; 336.722.9233) with a slew of regular events. On Friday at 7 p.m. learn about the basics of olives, an ancient fruit with many salubrious properties.

Harvest also brings one of the best free lunch opportunities in the Triad this fall at the Grove Winery on Saturdays. Of course, you know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so you’ll be helping with the grape harvest and learning about the winemaking process along the way. Volunteers must show up at 9 a.m. ready to pick, and should register by e-mailing the vineyard at

You like wine? Of course you do. And there’s a trio of events this week where you can get your grape on:

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar celebrates California Wine Month (who knew?) with tasting flights of reds, whites and reserves from the Golden State’s different regions.

The Press Wine Café holds a limited-seating pinot noir tasting Wednesday night at 7 p.m. with examples of this magnificent varietal from around the world. Call the café at 336.333.3190 for reservations.

And the Haw River Wine Trail, a cluster of five vineyards in the North Carolina heartland, celebrates its second anniversary on Saturday with tastings at each of the five facilities along the trail from Gibsonville to Mebane. Check for more details.

Hungry for more? Earth Fare in Greensboro hosts an installment of its culinary series Friday at 7 p.m. This one features a no-cook veggie lasagna that I’m afraid I’ll have to see before I believe.