Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Den Bosch is a secret Dutch treat

February 6, 2015

Lina and I spent last Saturday researching and photographing a story about ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Say whuh? I know, the name is so crazy that even the Dutch use the colloquial Den Bosch. Phew. Den Bosch is one of those off-the-beaten- path towns popular with Dutch day-trippers and virtually unknown by the average tourist. In short, our kind of place! An amazing bonus: it was sunny! Cold, yes, but the rare blue skies made up for it.

Eetbar Dit in Den Bosch

Eetbar Dit in Den Bosch

Den Bosch is only half an hour north of us, so will be one of our go-to spots for houseguests. I’d visited before, but it had been a decade. Its medieval town center remains a beauty, but a recent bonus is that hip and trendy food and shopping spots have opened, most notably Eetbar Dit, Mariapaviljoen (a medically themed hoot), Nom Nom wine bar, some cool vintage shops and a bunch of funky “concept stores” on Verwersstraat and Vughterstraat streets. (I hate the term “concept store,” but the Dutch use it often. Basically it’s a “lifestyle store” and usually cutting-edge contemporary.)

The Jheronimus Bosch Art Center

The Jheronimus Bosch Art Center

The other exciting Den Bosch additions are the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center, in praise of Den Bosch’s famous native son, whose 500th “death-day” they’re honoring in big ways all of 2016; and the new contemporary art museum, The Stedelijk, not associated with the one of the same name in Amsterdam. It focuses on jewelry and glass and has an outstanding gift shop, down to its walls and displays of wavy wood.

That’s enough for now — the details are going in my article, for an American Auto Club travel magazine. But for you, dear blog reader, a short list of things you gotta do there:

The famous Bossche Bol

The famous Bossche Bol

Treat yourself to a famed ”Bossche Bol,” a puff pastry filled with fresh whipped cream and dipped in dark chocolate.

Take a canal tour (March to October). The canals here are special because they’re below the buildings and you’ll ride through tunnels, some with artful arches.

Visit the Stedelijk and the adjacent Noordbrabants Museum, and also the Bosch center. Make sure you’re at the latter on the hour to see the astronomical clock in action.

St. John's cathedral

St. John’s cathedral

Visit the city’s pride and joy, St. John’s Cathedral, one of the best known churches in the Netherlands. It was built between 1380 and 1530 and shows off 600 statues inside and out. Just gorgeous. If you’re up for climbing 218 steps, take a tour of the bell tower for a stellar view of the city.

Along with those helpful hints, do the usual: Shop. Bop. Eat. Drink. Eet smakelijk en proost!

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NC food fest recap: all yummy all the time

November 9, 2012

Colleen Minton, belle of the ball

I was treated to some glorious dining and noshing events at TerraVITA in Chapel Hill, NC, last weekend. and now it‘s back to watching the waistline.

I’ve witnessed this fine food and beverage festival, founded and run by the gracious and energetic Colleen Minton, blossom from a decent-sized one-day happening to a three-day Southeastern to-do featuring classes, gatherings, and tastings from more than 45 food and beverage purveyors. I met people from around the Southeast coming to sample dozens of yummies from North Carolina chefs, wine makers and beer brewers. The providers of sustenance have one thing in common (other than offering quality nourishment) — they focus on sustainable products, meaning local farm fare that is grown with minimal chemicals.

Biscuits with pimento cheese and kale pesto

Friday night’s East to West sit-down meal featured three of our state’s top chefs — Vivian Howard of Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, Cassie Parsons of Harvest Moon Grille in Charlotte (and a farmer herself), and Adam Rose of Il Palio in Chapel Hill. Offerings included collard dolmades with pork, confit of carrots and beets, Sunburst Trout fritters, rabbit three ways (ravioli, sausage, and confit), and collard green and country ham creamed Carolina Rice middlins with pickled collard stems and turnip roots. I’m having fantastic food-fueled flashbacks! We sat at long communal tables and ate family style, great for getting to know your neighbors, though I missed the aesthetic of plating dishes.

Tasty morsels from Herons at the Umstead

Saturday’s “Grand Tasting” proved equally compelling, and this time plates abounded, tiny ones and plenty of them with samplings too numerous to mention. Several fell into the meat and biscuit category, my favorites being Weathervane’s butternut squash biscuits with pulled pork, and Chapel Hill Country Club’s sausage biscuit with pimento cheese and collard pesto. Chocolate purveyors were sprinkled throughout, including my two favorite in the state, Escazu from Raleigh and French Broad Chocolates from Asheville. It being early afternoon and with no designated driver, I passed on the alcohol but enjoyed eyeing the microbrews, wines, and the state’s first all-local and organic spirits from Top of the Hill. Next year I’ll have to bring Bob.

North Carolina food and wine fest keeps growing

August 15, 2012

Wow, in only its third year, TerraVITA has become a leading Southern food and wine event, with a focus on farm-sourcing, artisanal producers. This year’s event has expanded over several days, with activities running Nov. 1 to Nov. 3 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  Sounds like a great weekend getaway to me!

Much of the credit goes to founder and organizer Colleen Minton. I’ve seen a lot of “food festivals” come and go, but this one keeps getting bigger and better. And … Colleen gives back, as well. TerraVITA has donated more than $10,000 to local nonprofits over the past two years, and this year is adding a fund-raiser for the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. The market, just over the Chapel Hill border, should also be on your list of must-sees!

Below are some details on this year’s celebration, and tickets are on sale NOW! Ordering info. is here.

Jay Pierce of restaurant Lucky 32 at the TerraVITA event in 2010

WHAT: TerraVITA is a 3-day festival featuring the best in sustainable food and beverage in the South and celebrating chefs, farmers, and artisan beverage producers who offer the necessary foundation to create a sustainable network. The event features educational workshops and demonstrations, guest speakers, as well as food and beverage tastings and meals. The festival will begin with the Harvest Potluck Fundraiser for the Carrboro Farmers’ Market and end with the pinnacle event, the Grand Tasting on The Green.

FEATURING: More than two dozen chefs and artisan food producers from across the state of North Carolina participating in tastings, demos, dinners and workshops for the general public. Also, artisan wine producers, micro brewers, coffee roasters and boutique distillers will participate in workshops and over more than 100 tastings.

SCHEDULE:

★ Harvest Potluck Fundraiser: Thursday, Nov. 1,  from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Carrboro Farmers’ Market

★ The Sustainable Classroom (Speakers, Workshops & Demonstrations): Friday, Nov. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at multiple locations in Chapel Hill (hotel shuttles provided)

★ The Carolina Table: East Meets West (Dinner): Friday, Nov. 2 from 7 to 10 p.m. (Location TBD)

★ The Grand Tasting on The Green: Saturday, Nov. 3, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. on The Green at Southern Village in Chapel Hill