a m u s e BOUCHE

by Brian Clarey

Sure,it’s getting intermittently freezing outside, but things are beginningto thaw in the Triad’s culinary scene, even as area restaurants faceunprecedented challenges: a tight credit market for small businessesand higher food costs that haven’t yet reflected the new price of fuel.Yet still they plug away. I know things are tight, but if you care atall about homegrown restaurants and their owners, you should stop by a local restaurant for dinner this week if you can swing it. Of interest: Noble’s Grill in Winston- Salem has debuted Chef Jim Ward’s new bar menu. Highlights include duck liver mousse with cornbread and tomato preserves, Noble’s pastrami with pickled cabbage and horseradish mustard, and steak burger sliders with tomato confit. Man, those sliders are showing up everywhere. And Natty Greene’s has announced it will be bringing its signature line of hand-crafted beers to Raleigh. A new restaurant on Jones Street, near the capitol, is slated for a fall opening. If you’re reading this on Wednesday, there may still be time to reserve a seat at a joint production by Greensboro’s Vintage 301 and Foothills Brewery out of the Camel City. Highlights of the five-course beer dinner include oxtail with red-eye gravy and molasses ice cream. Food is, of course, accompanied by beer and discussion by Foothills Brewmaster Jaime Bartholomaus. Call 336.333.3190 for a seat at the bar. Also on Wednesday, EarthFare in Greensboro holds a vegetarian cooking class at 6:30 p.m. Join Meggan Reagan and Mackenzie Logan as they embrace the virtues of flora. Thursday sees the Greensboro Partnership annual dinner at the Sheraton Four Seasons, with guest speakers Kelly King, president and CEO of BB&T, and Mo Green, superintendent of Guilford County Schools and, I believe, the one who got Fredo Corleone into the casino business. Call the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce for more information at 336.387.8300 Also on Thursday, the Winston-Salem YWCA holds the 13th annual Project New Start Chili Luncheon and Silent Auction at 11 a.m. at the Glade Street location. According to a press release, “The event benefits Project New Start, a program that counsels and supports women and their families coming out of incarceration; and Hawley House, a licensed residential center providing housing and support for women recovering from the disease of addiction.” Friday sees a wine and beer tasting at EarthFare featuring“hearty wines and beers.” Five bucks gets you in, and light appetizeraction is promised. Things start at 6 p.m. And I’d like to say “Welcomeback” to the events page of Winston-Salem’s Whole Foods Market. To show my appreciation, I’d like to announce that Tuesdays at the organic grocer are Dime Cookie Days. That’s right: chocolatechip cookies are just 10 cents all day. Stop by and buy a round for the house.