Featured The Eater

THE EATER: A Guide to Eating

by Kirk Ross
2010 catch sees an increase
The report is in on the state’s commercial fisheries 2010 catch, and there’s a surprising increase in the haul, despite higher fuel prices and a rough economy. Overall, the commercial harvest was up 4 percent over 2009 and is at its highest level since 2005.
The biggest percentage jump came in oyster landings, which increased 81 percent due to strong growth in production and oyster beds, particularly in western Pamlico Sound.
According to the report, blue crabs remained the state’s top commercial seafood in both pounds harvested and dockside value, with 30.7 million pounds of blue crabs sold at the docks, a 2 percent increase from 2009. The landings had a dockside value of $26.5 million.
Other species toping the list are Atlantic croaker (7.3 million pounds), shrimp (6 million), summer flounder (3.3 million) and bluefish (3.2 million).

Mangia! Mangia!
In Roma, Federico Fellini’s love letter to his favorite city, there’s a section where he recalls his early days there as a young newspaper reporter. In it, there’s a long, lingering scene of food and frolic in a piazza that is just positively mythic.
Dining al fresco is getting to be a lost art. Maybe we’ve grown so busy that we can’t stand the added chaos of street sounds and sidewalk hubbub and feel we must take our meals in quiet with dim lights and soft music.
Stick to that script and you’re missing a special opportunity this time of year, when the students are gone, there’s plenty of elbowroom and the weather is not too toasty and somewhat chancy. There’s just something about the extra abandon of a meal under the stars in the South in warm weather when it could cut loose raining anytime.
While there are not too many piazzas around here where you’ll see anything like the scene from Roma, there are a few lively spots worth noting if you’re willing to add outdoor adventure to an evening out.
Top of the list for The Eater and those responding to a call for best spots to dine outdoors is Crook’s Corner, which has a lovely fountain and a menu full of items that ring true to the season. Also high on the list is Vimala’s little outdoor section of The Courtyard and the stretch on West Franklin where diners from Carolina Brewery, Elaine’s and Tallula’s are lined along the sidewalk. Carrboro also has a couple of spots worth noting, especially the back patio of Acme and the pebble-lined front yard at Provence.

Messing with the farmers
This area loves its farmers, but apparently the North Carolina General Assembly does not. Several thoughtful and successful agriculture programs are being zeroed out in House and Senate versions of the state budget, including the grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund that supported the Carrboro Farmers’ Market’s Truck Bucks program. The bucks will still be there for EBT recipients, but the market has had to hastily install an ATM for people who normally used their credit cards to get the bucks to buy groceries.
The raid on the Tobacco Trust Fund and the Golden Leaf Foundation, which has supported farmers converting from tobacco to local and organic agriculture, are just some of the many ways the legislature has tinkered with state ag policy.
Cuts for the Land Loss Prevention Project and the state’s Meat and Poultry Inspection Division are also likely to pass.