Oyster ice cream: A surprising scoop of American food history

“People actually ate this...It was once a big deal in Read more

Chocolate, ice cream and N.C. root beer!

In my favorite round, Battle Uncle Scott's Root Beer, Merrell, who runs the tapas restaurant and "cocktaileria" Circa 81 restaurant in Morehead City, prepared one heck of a riff on a Black Cow, that famous chocolate, ice cream and Read more

Cooking lessons learned at 2014 Fire on the Dock

As the contest moves into its final battle tonight, I'm thinking back to the ideas I got during the 2014 tournament, part of the statewide Competition Dining Series that ultimately crowns an overall North Carolina winner from four regional Read more

Southern Collards should be the new kale

Will collards be the new kale, darling of diners seeking farm-to-table fare? If the 2014 Fire on the Dock chef competition is any indication, maybe. Read more

Food touring in Carrboro with Taste Carolina

As I often say, "I'm eat up with it," and Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours fed my obsession quite well this past weekend. Read more


Fall delights on Wilmington menus

Sometimes it feels as if autumn is nothing but a leadup to Thanksgiving Day pumpkin pie. As soon as summer temperatures drop down to fall, pumpkins become cool.

Port City Java stores in Wilmington are serving pumpkin muffins. The shop’s pumpkin pie shake contains chai tea, ice cream cinnamon and Irish cream syrups and pumpkin pie spice. Pumpkin pie latte blends espresso, steamed milk, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla and cinnamon syrups.

Coastal Cupcakes downtown and at Wrightsville Beach is asking customers to suggest fall flavor ideas for the October and November cupcake list. Pumpkin was the No. 1 vote recently at the company’s Facebook fan page.

Pumpkin is not the only flavor on fall menus.

Salad turnips from Black River Organic Farm, one of the vendors you'll find at the downtown Wilmington Riverfront Farmers Market that happens 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays April-December.

Salad turnips from Black River Organic Farm, one of the vendors you’ll find at the downtown Wilmington Riverfront Farmers Market that happens 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays April-December.

The annual Oktoberfest celebration has begun at downtown’s The German Café, at The Cotton Exchange. Oktoberfest specials available until Oct. 31 include a $10 lunch and dinner special of grilled bratwurst on a bun with sauerkraut, a side of warm German potato salad, a 10-ounce German draft beer and a slice of strudel.

Collard greens have made appearances on Kornerstone Bistro’s menu, which regularly taps local growers for ingredients. At area farmers markets, look for more greens and lettuces, muscadine grapes, late-season peaches and tomatoes and, my favorite ingredient this year, tender, little salad turnips.

The turnips have a mild bite that is delicious raw or cooked. My Culinary Adventures with Liz Biro Top Chef Farmers Market Tour & Cooking Class have been playing with the turnips. Recent dishes prepared during class include roasted pumpkin and salad turnip risotto and a salad blending salad turnip roots and greens with poached pears and a firm, Havarti-like goat cheese from Nature’s Way.

Fall also brings Encore Magazine Restaurant Week, happening Oct. 23-30. Forty-three Cape Fear-area restaurants will offer nightly specials throughout the period. One of my favorite restaurant week stops is Caprice Bistro, which usually offers three fantastic courses for just $25! Menus will be posted soon.

Posted on by lizbiro in Chefs, Cooking classes, Downtown, downtown Wilmington, Farmers markets, French, Local food, Restaurants, Uncategorized, Uptown Wilmington, Wilmington Restaurant Week Leave a comment

Pub opens at Waterford

Tony’s N.Y. Pizza and Trattoria in the Waterford area of Leland has been closed for only a month, but, already, a pub is moving into the Cross Creek Commons shopping center location.

Halftime Sports Bar and Grill opened May 3 in the spot on U.S. 17 in front of Walmart, Halftime owner Charlie Almond said.

Almond previously operated Halftime Sports Café, 50 River Road SE in Belville. He closed that shop April 28 to move into Cross Creek Commons, where Halftime will have 4,500 square feet, more than twice the space of Almond’s former digs. Read more…

Posted on by lizbiro in Brunswick County, Leland, Restaurants Leave a comment

Wine, craft beer bar debuts in Ogden

A new wine and craft beer bar is open in Ogden.

Fermental offers more than 200 craft beers and about 100 wines in a 1940s-era home at 7250-B Market St. at Wendover Lane, owner Steve Gibbs said.

A bar and sofa lounge inside seats about 25 people, but Gibbs said he was developing a beer garden outside, too.

A large assortment of Belgian beers are among top-rated suds on Fermental’s list, which includes beer on tap and in kegs that Gibbs will deliver and set up.

Wines range from upmarket labels to $4.99 bottles of Vista Point reds and whites, Gibbs said. Read more…

Posted on by lizbiro in wine bar Leave a comment

More beer, burgers, seafood at Fish House Grill

New “gourmet” burgers and an expanded tap beer list are among changes at Wrightsville Beach’s Fish House Grill.

The 1410 Airlie Road restaurant’s Certified Angus Beef burgers include a new Reuben version on rye with kraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese and a Hawaiian with prosciutto, smoked gouda and grilled pineapple, Fish House general manager Chris McCray said.

A black bean burger made in-house replaces the previous veggie burger, McCray said.

Eight beer taps have been added…Read more

Posted on by lizbiro in Restaurants, Wrightsville Beach Leave a comment

Hops Supply Co. pub opens

LM Restaurants’ new Hops Supply Co. is open and focused on craft beer, but the pub takes Wilmington into a new wine direction.

Along with suds, Hops, 5400 Oleander Drive, features wine served from kegs, LM spokeswoman Mindy Stroupe said.

Wine kegs are nothing new in California, but they’ve reached major U.S. cities only over the past two or three years, said Chris Thompson, a Cape Fear region wine consultant for wine wholesaler The Country Vintner.

Serving wine from anything but a bottle may be off-putting to oenophiles, but Thompson, also a certified sommelier, said wine tapped from kegs is as good as that poured from bottles. Learn more about these kegs and Hops Supply Co. in my full report for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. You can also find out more about the Hops Supply Co. menu in an article about how the company develops its menus.

Posted on by lizbiro in Midtown Wilmington, New restaurants, Restaurants, wine bar Leave a comment

New fall food fest coming to Wrightsville Beach

Autumn’s inaugural Taste of Wrightsville Beach food and drink festival will showcase the town’s many restaurants while boosting fall tourism there, organizers say.

Small as it is, the shoreline town hosts more than a dozen places to eat and neighbors many others, any of which might show up for the 4-7 p.m. Oct. 27 event at the Robert’s Grocery parking lot in downtown Wrightsville Beach.

Ticket-holders roving the festival’s tasting stations will cast votes for a People’s Choice Award, Taste of Wrightsville Beach planner Lisa Weeks said. Professional judges will rate dishes, too, with honors going to the best.

Details about the event, how to volunteer and how restaurants can participate are in my full report for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Posted on by lizbiro in Food festivals, Restaurants, Uncategorized, Wrightsville Beach Leave a comment

Goodbye Fat Tony’s at Racine

Today is the last day to get your “craft beer, craft pizza” fix at Fat Tony’s at Racine Center.
Staff will lock the restaurant’s doors for good when closing time hits at 2 a.m., owners announced on Fat Tony’s Facebook page.
“Please join us for our grand finale! We will have live music on the patio.”
Fat Tony’s downtown remains open and celebrates its nine-year anniversary in July.

Last night to sit around Fat Tony's cool bar at Racine (Photo from Fat Tony's).

Additionally, the downtown address has added The North Carolina Tap Room, which features suds from a dozen N.C. breweries including Foothills Hurricane Hefeweizen from Winston-Salem. Three beer samples cost $4.50, and Fat Tony’s beer sommelier, Eric Rylander, can help you select a flight.

Find downtown’s Fat Tony’s Italian Pub at 131 N. Front Street.
By the way, ever notice that the bar at the Racine Center Fat Tony’s is shaped like a wine barrel? It was built by Wilmington carpenter and bar designer Jimmy Kaylis, who also plays in rockabilly band, the Cashmere Jungle Lords.

Posted on by lizbiro in Downtown, downtown Wilmington, Midtown Wilmington, Restaurants Leave a comment