Amuse Bouche

by Brian Clarey

The Fourth of July crept up pretty quickly this year, but sure enough by the weekend the air will be filled with fireworks and the heady whiff of lighter fluid as its sprayed over the coals in preparation for a big meat feast.

Tell me you’re not going to eat at least some charred animal remains this Fourth, and I’ll tell you you’re helping the terrorists.

To that end, area Harris Teeter grocery stores have slashed prices on ribs, among other holiday delicacies, and offered a rib recipe of their own at – though, you should be warned, the procedure calls for oven cooking and not pit cooking. I mean, really… it’s okay, I guess, to start your ribs off in the oven, but they absolutely must be finished off on the grill. Come on, people.

Chances are good that you’ll be eating a hot dog or two this weekend, as well. And if you’re one of those who favor “staycations” this year, you might want to take the short hop to Durham this weekend to check out Nineteen at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Course, where all summer long they’re celebrating the many incarnations of the noble tubesteak. Each week the grill presents a dog from a different region: the New York Street Cart Dog, a kosher wiener with onion sauce and brown mustard; the Chicago Red Hot, a Vienna frankfurter with tomatoes, relish, pickles, peppers, onions and celery salt; the Milwaukee Brat with stadium sauce, saurkraut and mustard; a Fenway Frank. Visit for more info and directions.

The Grove Winery holds an Independence Day celebration on its patio Friday, which will undoubtedly feature some of their award-winning wines on the cheap. I recommend their strawberry wine – it’s not just for teenagers anymore.

And Undercurrent Restaurant will be closed on Friday night so the staff can go wild in the streets. Or something. But their July pairing menu will run as scheduled Рthree courses, each with its own taste of appropriate vintage. I like the looks of the butter-poached halibut with parsnips, wild spinach and preserved lemon cream matched with a 2003 Chateau St. Robert Graves Bordeaux from the white menu and, from the red, I get turned on by the bacon-wrapped country pat̩ with pistachis, whole-grain mustard and black currant puree paired with a Childress Vineyards Pinnacle-Meritage.


One more bite: Wal-Mart and Costco have been selling milk in new gallon jugs that are cheaper, better for the environment and keep the milk fresher, according to the New York Times Dining & Wine section. And, according to, “they kind of suck at pouring milk.” Nothing to cry over, but it’s yet another reason to cut back on dairy.