Amuse Bouche’

by Brian Clarey

Sometimes I make fun of that Olive Garden commercial where the Italian-American family brings their Sicilian relative to the land of free breadsticks and bottomless salad bowls during a visit. You know, for an authentic taste of home.

But last week in a mind-boggling case of life imitating… a TV commercial, Taco Bell announced it will be opening stores in Mexico. Because that’s exactly what they need down there.

There are some much better ideas happening this week in the Triad.

Take the beer dinner at Earth Fare on Friday at 6 p.m. Twenty-five bucks, five of it going to the Greensboro Symphony’s Youth Orchestra, gets you four courses from Chef Mike paired with a selection of fall beers. Call 336.369.0190 for reservations.

Earth Fare is also hosting a culinary series event on Wednesday at noon featuring a quick and easy clam chowder just in time for soup season.

There is organic-market news from over in Winston-Salem as well, as the Whole Foods Market will demonstrate how to shop for and prepare full meals for four people that cost less than $15. That will be on Wednesday at noon, so pick one and go with it.

Here’s another good idea: contributing to the High Point Museum by eating pizza, which you’d most likely do anyway. Simply download a voucher at and bring it to Pizzeria Uno in High Point, which will donate 20 percent of your bill to the venerable institution.

Speaking of pizza: Everybody already knows that there’s a Mellow Mushroom coming to South Elm Street in Greensboro, right?

On the grapevine this week is a wine tasting at UNCG presented by the Speech and Hearing Program at Gateway University Research Park. Billed as From Vines and Voices, it is, in the words of UNCG Assistant Director of University Relations Dan Nonte, “a wine tasting fundraiser to help patients who can’t afford speech-language pathology services and voice prosthetic devices.” In the offering will be a selection of bottles from Zeto Wines, a silent art auction and a couple of jazz acts, though if you ask me it may be more appropriate to hire a mime. The tasting is on Saturday at 4:30 at.

And it is noteworthy that the Grove Winery and Vineyards earned five medals at the state fair wine competition. The Rosso Dolce, 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 Estate Sangiovese and 2006 Estate Traminette all placed in the competition, and the Grove’s strawberry wine took double gold for Best Fruit Wine. If you haven’t tried the Grove Strawberry, then your summer was not as good as mine. It tastes extraordinarily fresh, as it’s made entirely from local, organic berries and there is a seedy finish redolent of sesame. Frankly, I don’t know what the hell to pair it with, but it stands just fine by itself.

Also: Don’t eat pot pies. I’ll explain it to you later.