Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It doesn't get much more North Carolina than this

... unless, of course, there was a way to also infuse it with barbecue.

"A limited edition doughnut brings two North Carolina tastes together: Cheerwine and Krispy Kreme," writes Mouthful. "The Cheerwine-cream filled doughnut will only be available in July.

"The first batch will be delivered tomorrow to Gov. Bev Perdue."

Brunswick Co.: Some very fine eats

The family headed down to the Sunset Beach area for a conference last week. And while I won't go into the details on the horrendous experience at the resort at which we stayed, I do want to sing the praises of the culinary experiences we had.

Our first stop was dinner at the Sugar Shack in Ocean Isle Beach. Man, oh man, this may be one of the best meals we've ever had. We started with crab fritters (with a fantastic lime sauce) and then split a full rack of ribs. We were a bit suspicious when there was no barbecue sauce with the ribs, but our concern was quickly put to rest. These were perhaps the best ribs we've ever eaten. If you attempt to go to the Sugar Shack, be sure to make reservations.

The next night we hit the Giggling Mackerel, also in OIB. Admittedly, it would be hard for any place to follow the Sugar Shack, but the Giggling Mackerel held its own. The food is not as adventurous, but the service was fantastic, the food was brought out quickly (and when you have a 3-year-old and a 19-month-old, you don't want to dilly-dally), and there's plenty of stuff to do before you're seated. The restaurant is located in a fishing center, complete with a seafood market and a very neat nautical-themed store.

Our third night there was spent at Ella's in Calabash. Some may poo-poo Calabash-style seafood for just being fried, but I'm not complaining. Ella's is one of several Calabash institutions, and the food was fantastic.

Oh, and the best part about all these places? They are VERY reasonably priced -- especially for coastal restaurants. For instance, at Ella's, I got the deluxe fried platter -- with shrimp, crab, flounder, oyster and scallops; fries and coleslaw -- for just $15.

(Sugar Shack image from Myspace; Giggling Mackerel photo courtesy of its homepage)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Griffith, Watson and Caesar among newest N.C. Music Hall inductees

The N.C. Music Hall has announced its newest class (Class of '10). These pioneers will be honored in October in Kannapolis as the newest members of the Music Hall.

Among the honorees are Andy Griffith, Doc Watson, Shriley Caesar and Donna Fargo.

The induction ceremony will be held October 7 at the Core Labratory Building on the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. The N.C. Music Hall opened there in 2009.

N.C. Music Hall Class of 2010
Performing Artists:
Maurice Williams, recording artist, Charlotte
Andy Griffith, gospel recording artist, Mount Airy/Wilmington
Donna Fargo, country recording artist, Mount Airy
Arthur Smith, country composer, performer, producer, Charlotte
George Hamilton IV, country recording artist, Winston-Salem
Doc Watson, country/bluegrass vocalist, musician, Deep Gap/North Wilkesboro
Curly Seckler, bluegrass vocalist and musician, China Grove
Dr. Bill Taylor, jazz pianist, composer, Greenville
Shirley Caesar, gospel recording artist, Durham

Don Gibson, country recording artist and composer, Shelby
Les Brown, Big Band leader, Durham
Oliver (William Oliver Swofford), recording artist, North Wilkesboro

Non-Performing Artists:
Don Schlitz, composer, guitarist and soloist, Durham

Monday, June 21, 2010

Quick hits: Man wins Hollerin' Contest with 'Summertime' rendition, and coastal states study public beach access

N.C. man hollers 'Summertime'

"A North Carolina man who won the National Hollerin' Contest says he almost disqualified himself by going over the four-minute time limit," says the AP.

"The Fayetteville Observer reported that Tony Peacock of Siler City won the 42nd annual contest this past weekend in Spivey's Corner. His hollerin' rendition of the popular Gershwin tune 'Summertime' got him the title.

"Peacock says he had to cut short his last holler because he had only two seconds left.

"The contest is held to benefit the Spivey's Corner Volunteer Fire Department. The winner gets bragging rights and opportunities to perform at events and on television. ..."

Public beach access under assault in many coastal states
"Some Jersey shore beach towns have plenty of ways to keep outsiders off their sand: Limit on-street parking, prohibit food and drink, and have no public bathrooms," says the AP.

"One town literally walls off the public from much of the ocean with a protective stone seawall, and offers virtually no parking for miles along it.

"Beach access has become a long drawn-out court battle in many coastal states. And now in New Jersey, the state Department of Environmental Protection is bowing to complaints from some local governments and private property owners that state access rules are too strict. ...

"Battles over who rules the sand are being fought all over the country. It's not just about unbroken ocean views, either. In New Jersey, tourism is a nearly $40 billion industry and its beaches are a primary draw.

"The U.S. Supreme Court last week ruled that Florida can undertake beach-widening projects without compensating beach-front property owners who lose exclusive access to the water. ...

"In Hawaii, a new law prohibits property owners from using vegetation to block beach access. In North Carolina, state officials are trying to balance competing demands over the use of a popular Outer Banks beach between fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts who want to drive their vehicles on the sand, and environmentalists who want to protect coastal wildlife. ..."

Monday, June 14, 2010

State has plan for oil on the coast

Oil from the BP spill in the Gulf may or may not make its way up to the North Carolina coast. But if it does, state officials are ready.

"North Carolina has a plan for dealing with the possible incursion of the BP Deep Horizons oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico into the state’s coastal waters," says the Washington News.

"That plan may be found on the N.C. Department of Crime Control & Public Safety’s Web page under the heading for the Division of Emergency Management, said department spokesman Ernie Seneca. The department’s Web page may be found at www.nccrimecontrol.org. ...

The plan was developed in the “remote chance some of this oil will make its way up here,” Seneca said in an interview with the Washington Daily News. ...

Meanwhile, the state is preparing to act if oil threatens its waters.

“North Carolina has an oil spill-response plan that defines roles and responsibilities for responding agencies,” Seneca said. “The state of North Carolina is closely monitoring BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. State and federal agencies are coordinating plans to be fully prepared to respond in case the oil reaches our state. The U.S. Coast Guard is currently projecting that there is a remote chance that the oil could reach this far north and threaten North Carolina’s coast.”

North Carolina’s plan makes the Coast Guard the lead agency in charge of oil threatens coastal waters, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the lead agency in charge if oil threatens inland waters. The N.C. Department of Crime Control & Public Safety, which includes the Division of Emergency Management, is the lead state-response agency. The N.C. State Emergency Response Team, headed by the state’s emergency-management director, assists federal agencies, coordinates state preparations and response activities and works with local communities and responders.

Glad to hear that state officials are planning ahead. Hopefully it is unnecessary planning.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Our state's food: The Tar Heel 25

The Raleigh News & Observer has put together a list (and multimedia slideshow) of the "Tar Heel 25," the 25 foods that define our state. You can read about them here.

Here are some of the highlights.

1. Banana pudding at Savor Cafe in Charlotte

2. Picking apples at Skytop Orchard in Flat Rock. "Follow the picking with the essence of apple: a cold cider slushy and a hot cider doughnut."

3. Grits souffle at Magnolia Grill in Durham.

4. North Carolina barbecue (depending on your taste -- smart move, N&O!).

5. Seafood at Catch in Wilmington

6. Beer at Barley's Taproom in Asheville

7. Pork chop sandwich at Snappy Lunch, Mount Airy

8. A high-caffeine soda. "North Carolina has a history of inventing high-caffeine sodas, including Sundrop. From there it was a simple step to the Cherry Lemon Sundrop. It originated at R.O.'s Barbecue in Gastonia (Sundrop, Cheerwine and a slice of lemon), then branched out to What-A-Burger in Mooresville (Sundrop, Fanta cherry soda and a lemon slice). Either way, it's sweet, tart and refreshing on a hot afternoon."

9. R.O.'s slaw/sauce/dip in Gastonia

The "little loaves of warm cornbread with honey butter" from Mert's Heart & Soul in Charlotte.

11. Honeysuckle sorbet, Crook's Corner, Chapel Hill

12. Fried chicken from Keaton's Barbecue, Statesville

13. Fried herring from the Cypress Grill, Jamesville

14. Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church barbecue, Charlotte

Gaynelle Tillett's fig cake from the Ocracoke Seafood Company, Ocracoke

16. A BLT from the Merritt's Store & Grill in Chapel Hill

17. Price's Chicken Coop, Charlotte

18. The 12-layer cake from Robeson County, with "thin layers of yellow cake separated by a rich chocolate frosting. Before we dig in to the country buffet at Fuller's Old Fashion Bar-B-Q in Lumberton, we always check the dessert table - just to make sure we need to save room."

19. Uncle Scott's Root Beer, Davidson

20. N.C. State University ice cream, Raleigh (on campus or at the N.C. State Fair)

21. Chili Dog from the Roast Grill, Raleigh;
Ward's Grill in Whiteville; J.S. Pulliam Barbeque in Winston-Salem

22. Mama Dip's pecan pie, Chapel Hill

23. Warm Moravian sugar cake, Winston-Salem

24. Varnamtown Oyster Roast.
"The congregation of the Dixon Chapel United Methodist Church has hosted the event for more than 50 years. The line of people waiting to eat their fill of roasted oysters, hushpuppies and sweet pickles is a testament to the eating experience. To look like a pro, bring your own homemade sauce and roll of paper towels."

25. Salt-and-pepper catfish from Twin Tops Fish Camp in Belmont

Any obvious omissions? Any problems with these on the list?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Introducing your Official State Horse

From the News & Observer:

Buffeted by hurricanes and harassed by centuries of sand fleas, the humble colonial Spanish mustang has been enshrined as North Carolina's official horse.

The state House voted 116-0 Wednesday to embrace the descendents of steeds said to have been marooned on the Outer Banks by 16th century conquistadors. The Senate approved the bill last week, and Gov. Bev Perdue is expected to sign the measure into law.

The measure was herded through the legislature by one of its most powerful members, Senate leader Marc Basnight.

"They are part of our heritage," said Basnight, a Manteo Democrat whose coastal district includes islands where the horses roam wild. "They are a small horse in stature. They are quick. They are relatively tame, when not in season." ...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Quick hits: It's 'cane season, and an official state horse?

It's hurricane season, y'all

"The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season has begun and comes at a time when oil from a spill off the Louisiana coast continues spewing into the Gulf of Mexico," according to the AP.

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an active season, with as many as 23 named tropical storms.

"An estimated eight to 14 storms could strengthen into hurricanes. Of those storms, three to seven could become major hurricanes. ..."

Senate gives Mustang the OK

"The state Senate has passed a bill naming the Colonial Spanish Mustang the official State Horse of North Carolina.

"Sen. Pro-tem Marc Basnight, D-Dare, requested the adoption of the bill in the Senate. The legislation now heads to the House, where it has backing from Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, and Rep. Tim Spear, D-Washington," says the Daily Advance.

"The idea for the designation came from students at Shawboro Elementary School in Currituck County. Basnight’s staff, Owens, Spear and other leaders attended a meeting at Shawboro in January.

"There are currently about 100 wild horses in Corolla and around 120 living in Shackleford Banks in Carteret County. ..."