amuse bouché 1.24.07

by Brian Clarey

To hell with TS Eliot. I say January is the cruelest month. Except for the annual bacchanal on the first, there are no festive holidays this month (as important a day as it is, I don’t count Martin Luther King Day as a festive holiday), nothing to look forward to except cold and wet weather, credit card bills from Christmas and maybe buying a new day planner.

And this January, events are conspiring to ruin breakfast as we know it.

With the cold snap in California practically wiping out the citrus crop, we can anticipate the $9 glass of orange juice in the coming months. The recent unrest at the Smithfield hog slaughterhouse in Tar Heel threatens our closest supply of bacon. And if this bird flu business turns out to be more than just a diversionary scare tactic, it’s possible that our eggs could be next.

But there is good news this month: one of the Triad’s only five-star restaurants, Bernardin’s in Winston-Salem, will soon have a sibling. Owners Freddy and Terence Lee, who also have the distinction of serving me the finest meal I have ever eaten in North Carolina, will be opening Bleu, a slightly more casual enterprise, near the Hanes Mall. Foodies rejoice.

Another cause for celebration is the relocation of the Lawndale Fresh Market, where I used to shop regularly when my mother-in-law owned Herbs Instead right around the corner. The store will move about a hundred yards north, where a Food Lion once stood, and with more space and parking this new incarnation should be able to keep up with the Teeters.

Not to be outdone, Earth Fare on Battleground Avenue is in the midst of a facelift that will culminate in March, with expansion of the produce, packaged food and prepared meals departments as well as new stations for sandwiches and pizzas.

Ganache Restaurant and Bakery, meanwhile, is planning to add 60 year-round seats to the dining room by building a roof over their upper-deck patio. “It will still be pretty much open-air,” says General Manager Mike Morris, “but it will have a permanent roof on it.” Architects are drawing up the plans as I write.

Slow Food Piedmont will host an open meeting at Zaytoon on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to plan events and activities for 2007.

And Hershey’s Kisses will be immortalized on a postage stamp unveiled by the USPS last week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the amorous treat introduced by the Pennsylvania chocolatier in 1907. I imagine one of these suckers would look great on a Valentine’s Day card.

And don’t worry – January will soon be over. But if this wacky weather doesn’t let up, we all better get used to Cap’n Crunch in the mornings.