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a m u s e BOUCHE

by Brian Clarey

Regular readers of this space must have noticed that this week we present our first food issue, which we hope to make a biannual event. This depends on our readers, and how interested they are in the culinary scene. Opinion around the office varies, but I know there are some hardcore foodies out there who would rather talk about the proper way to cook fish on an outdoor grill than NASCAR.

The issue comes during dark times for the national restaurant industry. Chains are reporting a decrease in sales of “left side of the menu” items like soups, appetizers and salads. And my colleagues at Willamette Week in Portland, Ore. Have begun a Restaurant Apocalypse column to document the restaurant closings in the wonderful culinary town. Still! The weather is nourishing the late-spring fruits and vegetables here in the Piedmont, and already the farmers markets teem with great local produce. Whole Foods Market in Winston- Salem has begun a Business Lunch promotion: free delivery on a minimum order of six of their signature sandwiches, or feel free to create your own. And as everybody who works in an office knows, talking about lunch, if you’re doping it right, can take up the whole morning. And Undercurrent Restaurant offers an “endless wine glass” for $23. It happens as a tableside wine tasting, allowing samples of six of the featured wines on the specials list. For another $7, you can try all eight. And Winston-Salem’s own Blue Rhino, inventor of the “Drop, Swap & Go” propane tank system, turns 15 during National Barbecue Month. If you have no plans to grill outside this week, here are some other exciting options to put things in your mouth. Wednesday sees a meeting of Green Drinks Greensboro at 5:30 p.m. over at the Elsewhere Living Museum on South Elm Street. A word of caution: When drinking at Elsewhere, respect the whiskey. On Thursday, Old Salem Museums & Gardens holds its 59th annual lunch meeting at the Visitors Center at 11:30 a.m. The afternoon involves an address by President and CEO Lee French and the conveyance of the Lifetime Frederic William Marshall Distinguished Service Award to the late Earl Slick and his wife, Jane. Also, the Burke Singers from Winston-Salem State University and the Clemmons Elementary School Choir will perform. Lunch is $10. RSVP at 336.499.7959 or e- mail Tabatha Renegar at trenegar@oldsalem.org. I predict Saturday will be a good day to drink wine. The 9th annual North Carolina Wine Festival will be held at Tanglewood Park. From the press release: “the state’s largest attended wine festival offers the opportunity to meet wine makers, vineyard owners, taste and compare offerings from over 36 North Carolina Wineries, all in the same place and on the same day in one festive summertime atmosphere.” Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 on Saturday. For more info call Julie McMinn Shoaf at 336.733.5836 or e-mail jemcminn@wsjs.com. Also on Saturday, the Grove Winery holds Gears & Cheers, a bike tour with lunch and wine. Check-in begins at the winery at 7 a.m. for more information go to www.sportoften.com.

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