Tarheeltalker

Culinary Overkill

Living in a small community will be  definition limit one’s choices  for dining out. No brainer concept there. Generally speaking, I am okay with that since if I get really desperate I can drive to Virginia Beach or Chesapeake or to the Outer Banks. It shows how ” not desperate” I am that I rarely do this except on special occasions. But last week, while in Atlanta to see the new granbaby, I got a chance to see how the other half lives.

It would have been almost enough just to able to walk to Dunkin Donuts any morning I chose to indulge my munchkin cravin’. But no,  there was much more. We were able to enjoy food at four quite distinctive restaurants. Two were franchises, albeit small ones, while the other two are indigenous to Atlanta. By the way, I heartily endorse all four.

My favorite  would have to be Ted’s Montana Grill, home of the bison burger and founded by  the one and only Ted Turner. Probably the most amazing burger ever. But there was also a very good pizza place  known as Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, local only at this time. Reminded me of a Subway the way one could pick ingredients of one’s choosing. Then there was Firehouse Subs, actually founded by firemen; also quite good. Finally there was another local place named The Flying Biscuit, my favorite name by far. As the name implies the biscuits are out of sight good, although not sure if they can actually fly. The other menu item that stood out for me especially ( being Southern by birth) were their tasty and creamy grits. I  would have been very happy dining on biscuits and grits.

The  service was excellent as was the food and they were all kinda fun places in which to dine. Wouldn’t make much of  a food critic, would I? Compliments to the chiefs, et al.

June 7, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Food | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May 8,1886

One hundred twenty-five years ago today, in Atlanta, Ga, a momentous event took place. The after effects are still with us in ways that could never have been envisioned by James S  Pemberton or the customers of  Jacobs Pharmacy. For those untold millions whose thirst has been quenched by a ” Co-Cola” as my wife famously said after the birth of our first child, and Mello- Yello lovers everywhere, it should almost be  a holiday. Yep, it was the day in which the first Coke was served.

I don’t really care much about the secret formula or if somebody has actually published  it somewhere. I have very little interest  in knowing that   the beverage actually had cocaine for a time. I just know that there have been many times that nothing but a Coke would satisfy or quench  my thirst as jingles have proclaimed. It has settled my stomach many times, has smoothed the way for many a hot dog and hamburger and still does. In the interest of disclosure I  would be remiss if I failed to mention that Mello-Yello shares the top spot now. But it is  a Coke product, of course.

It is interesting that an NC native, the home state of Pepsi, would be such a loyal  Coke consumer, but there you have it. I well remember in my hometown of Leaksville, NC as it was known then, watching the Coke bottles go round and round at a bottler? or distributor and thinking how cool that was.

But in the interest of history as I remember it I recall that while living in Columbus, Ga in the late 70’s and early to mid 80’s that there was  the John S Pemberton house located on  a brick paved street near the Chattahoochee River where I often indulged my then affinity for running. There was a  plaque on the grounds identifying that house as being that of one John S Pemberton who concocted the formula for Coke and then rushed off to the big city.

Actually he probably refined the formula  after moving to Atlanta where the product was not well received until being bought by Asa Chandler with the rest being history. Ironically for me, Dr Pemberton,  a pharmacist by trade, was actually born in North Carolina and buried in Columbus. Finally I have an NC connection for Coke. Have to go now, it is time for  a Mello-Yello!

May 8, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Bananas for Bananas

One of my favorite, if not the favorite, tv programs  of my childhood was Captain Kangaroo. One of his recurring characters was the Banana  Man. He always fascinated me with the endless  variety of items he pulled from his bottomless coat pockets , featuring of course the lowly banana.

Both the Captain and Banana  Man  are long gone but the banana  has now become a bigger star than  ever  before. Thanks to Japanese ingenuity ( who else)  it now has its own vending machine. A Japanese subsidiary of  David Murdock’s Dole Corporation  installed its  first banana vending machine almost a month ago in Shibuya station on one of the country’s busiest subway lines. Kept cool by a refrigerator inside, bananas sell for $1.50 each  or $4.50  a bunch. Thus far the machine  has been  a big success.

This is the perfect solution for those locales who are busily banning soft drinks, etc from city owned facilities. I wrote about that exact thing taking place in San Antonio under the direction of city manager Sheryl Sculley. She now has a healthy alternative to the evils of soft drinks. First bananas and then the sky or banana tree is the limit. Then the city can just  wait and peel in, uh reel in the profits. Probably should not locate a machine anywhere near the zoo’s primate habitat though. It would be  a shame to turn lawful chimps into criminals.

July 26, 2010 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Just Blooming Cool

Although I don’t eat there often, I am a big fan of Outback Steakhouses. One of their featured menu items is the famous bloomin’ onion. But I believe that their bloom has been  trumped. There is a  small division of Food Lion (numbering about 65 stores) known as Bloom. The stores operated under that name are decidedly more upscale than the Food Lion stores. Considering that I am no  great fan of Food Lion, I certainly hope that  their customer service is much better, because it needs to be. But I digress.

The Bloom folks created an ingenious billboard  on Highway 150 outside  of Mooresville,NC that was in action for several days last week. I’m purposely not using  a picture as I  want you to create your own mental image. So, imagine a giant fork standing 10 feet or so in the air, prongs sticking into a huge, juicy looking bite of steak which itself is in the middle of  a billboard. Gets your attention, huh? To top it off, there were fans at the bottom of the billboard wafting fragrances created by  charcoal and pepper flavored oil.  The fans  ran for 3 hours in the am and 3 hours in the pm.

I’m guessing that  there was a lot of attention generated by the first billboard to use the sense of smell. Wonder how much steak they sold ? If nothing else , the creative bar for billboards has been raised to a new and quite different level. Perhaps we will soon seee, if not already, a talking billboard.  The possibilities,alas, are limitless.

June 23, 2010 Posted by | Food, Media | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farmer’s Markets

Here in Elizabeth City, we have a nice , little farmers market that runs from  mid April through the end of October. This is the second year for this open air market on our downtown waterfront. The primary focus is baked good  and  fresh veggies in season, at  least as far as I am concerned. Mrs THT has brought  home some of the best baked breads one can imagine. Other vendors  display non food wares as well. You will even see the local animal shelter with a booth trying to find homes for some canines and that other 4 footed  pet. They know who they are. It is  a nice little event when the weather co-operates.

My son and his wife  live in the great city of Atlanta which has  a huge farmers market that sells things that I would probably would not even recognize. That’s alright. A big city must have a  big  approach.

Apparently, the First Lady has heard of one or both of these markets. For, lo and behold, she wants one near the White House. Not on the grounds, mind you, as the President was quick to point out. What, no big crowds on the grounds? I thought Andrew Jackson tried that way back when. Anyway, back to the First Lady’s idea. There is an organization called Freshfarm Markets that is asking that Vermont Avenue be closed from 1-8 pm on Thursday  (weekday, mind you, rush hour etc)

DDOT spokesman  John Leslie says the traffic people are studying the request. It was just last month that the President put his  support behind te idea of a farmers market.His comments made reference to the garden that the First Lady had  set up at the White House.

Well, there you go. The market has its first vendor and the proceeds could go to any one of a myriad of things. Hint, hint, healthcare.

Seems that the sponsor for the market has already invited Ms Obama to its grand opening. Must know the approval  s forthcoming. The Freshfarm folks are apparently  the umbrella organization for farmers markets in the D.C. area. That would be helpful for outdoor markets, I guess. Oh, since the  White House is just a few blocks from the  proposed market, it would be easy to get a selection from the White House garden for display and sale.

I must admit my lack of knowledge on farmers markets in the nation’s capital. But, then again, it probably should not be surprising. Is there not a lot of manure in that part of the country that would be  good  fertilizer? Just asking.

September 8, 2009 Posted by | economy, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mixed Health Messages

Health issues can be quite complex and hard to decipher. I present 3 examples that illustrate  how that is true. About 2 weeks ago the President nominated Dr Regina Benjamin to be the next  Surgeon General, our nation’s top doc and #1 health care advocate. Dr Benjamin practices on the Gulf Coast  of Alabama and has had very noteworthy medical career. She  has focused her practice on those who number among the under served. Her clinic has had to overcome the wrath of Katrina as well as a devastating fire. She has received a number of honors, all seemingly well deserved.

In her personal life, she has lost a number of family members to disease, such as diabetes, lung cancer(due to smoking)  and HIV related illness. She says that she would want to focus and wellness and prevention plans to keep people from dying of preventable diseases.

Ok, now for the mixture angle. Dr Thomas Frieden is head of the CDC. He apparently considers obesity as a preventable disease, but not by individuals themselves.  He alluded to the 26% obesity rate in our country and has this quote”Reversing obesity is not going to be done successfully with individual effort,” it will be done successfully as a society( translation -government). CDC researchers also said that spending on obesity-related diaeases  takes up 10% of health care spending.

Number 3 comes from the left coast, courtesy of the LATimes. The article is titles Tough Love for Fat  people, Tax Their Food to pay for healthcare.Don’t laugh just yet. The Urban Institute has a report that suggests using strategies that  were employed in the tobacco wars against fatty foods. Simplified, tax those chips, cookies , sodas, candies etc. What a government gold mine , all to be used for healthcare of course. They say that a 10% tax on theses evil foods along with new labeling identifying the healthier foods  would work wonders. Now whose work do they site? The Surgeon General who reported on the dangers of smoking way back in 1964 (this report was key in getting my dad to quit smoking)  and  continued to raise the bar .

Ok, do we have any connections?  Our Dr Benjamin is herself an overweight person. Some have already raised  this issue, both  as a  factor in  her favor-different perspective, knows the issues etc- and as a negative- how can she advocate against weight related issues if  she is struggling with them. A conundrum, we have, as Yoda might say.

Personally, I have always had a bit of difficulty with physicians who seemed of the mindset- take my advice, but I don’t . Could our Dr Benjamin fall in  that category, perhaps. Would she be wont to push aggressive measures that target what one eats and seeks actually to influence or control ones behaviour in that area? It will be interesting to watch. Too bad, one can only stock up so much Mello Yello ahead of time.

July 28, 2009 Posted by | Food, Health | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Just Gotta have It!

At long  last the time has come for an ode to coffee , a paen to that morning or afternoon or evening cup or multiple cups of good ole Joe . Those who know are aware that it is the crucial element for getting one’s day off to a ( great  ) start of any kind . Without it, how unfortunate we would be indeed . Those of you who are not blessed with the taste bud to enjoy coffee have my undying sympathy . Thankfully, my adult children and my beloved wife all share in enjoying this delightful beverage . We do not all drink the same flavorings or  quantities but that is not the main factor,  we all comsume  the brew. We indeed  owe a debt to those who lived in 9th century Ethiopia where the lowly bean was first cultivated . And hats off to Juan Valdez and his burro for their modern day efforts . Whether you enjoy it by dunking a doughnut which is how I started before I learned better or with pie or cake or whatever , I raise my mug and salute  ( health   benefits or lack of same yet to be determined for certain so until the next  study or two or three , drink on ) Hear ! Hear !

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Food | , , , , | 2 Comments