Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The first-ever Chapel Hill-Carrboro Small Plate Crawl

click to enlargechapel-hill---carrboro-crawl-logo800.jpg
    More than 20 restaurants are expected to participate in theChapel Hill-Carrboro Small Plate Crawl, a new dining event that launches Tuesday and continues through Thursday.

    This undertaking marks the expansion of a popular series of events first staged in 2009 in Hendersonville, N.C., by Asheville-based food blogger Laura Huff, or Carolina Epicurean. "It was my way of doing community service," Huff says. "Restaurants were hurting from the 2008 crash. They really needed a way to get people back at their tables."

    Diners were enticed to visit on typically slow nights with budget-friendly small plates of $3 to $10. The promotion not only lured locals back into their favorite spots but also got them to try new ones.

    The Hendersonville event also served to attract food lovers willing to drive for a good deal. One of them was Nichole Livengood, who plays a similar role as Huff in Greenville, S.C. Known there for her work as Gap Creek Gourmet, Livengood helped Huff's effort to expand the small plate crawl to Asheville. Last March, they added Greenville, which boasts another lively culinary scene.

    Now business partners, their success did not go unnoticed. The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, which supports the annual TerraVita Food & Beverage Festival (Oct. 8-10), signed on as the event's official sponsor, making it easier for Huff and Livengood to recruit popular eateries. A tempting list of featured menu items—ranging from Crispy Arancini ($3) at Il Palio (which has been closed for renovations) to Beet Tartare Salad at City Kitchen ($10) and Black & White Affogato ($5) at La Dolce Vita Café—is being updated daily.

    There is no fee or registration required to participate in the small plate crawl, but diners interested in winning restaurant gift certificates or other prizes need to download a free app and scan designated QR codes after ordering featured menu items. Chefs and bartenders who get the most votes are also are eligible for rewards.

    Like the debut event that will soon follow in Charleston, S.C., Huff says the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Small Plate Crawl will become an annual event. "We expect it to be even bigger next year," she says. "When restaurants see how successful their neighbors were this year, they'll want to join in."
    This post first appeared in Indy Week

    Wednesday, September 23, 2015

    Carolina Inn's Crossroads reopens with more approachable look, menu

    Sunburst trout filet - PHOTO BY JILL WARREN LUCAS
    • Sunburst trout filet
    Nearly four months after closing for major renovations, the restaurant and lounge at Chapel Hill's Carolina Inn have traded spaces and reopened with a new look and name.

    The Inn announced the planned renovation of Carolina Crossroads—now named Crossroads Chapel Hill— in March at the institution's 90th anniversary celebration. The new digs look so different you might find yourself stopping in the hallway to reconsider your bearings. Conservatively clubby furnishings have yielded to a less formal, more contemporary elegance that trades white linen tablecloths for marble tabletops and understated Rosenthal china. While it should satisfy longtime patrons, the redesign is bound to make Crossroads attractive to younger diners who found the former setting stuffy, too.

    Walls are gone, clearing out the lounge, which now opens onto one of the Triangle's most inviting lawns. The famous Front Porch, which will feature a few more Fridays on the Front Porch music events this season as well as Tailgate'Inn gatherings during home UNC football games, is set with cozy dining tables and outdoor sofas and chairs.

    As before, the fare focuses on regionally sourced ingredients prepared in a mostly Southern style, evidenced by a soft opening late last week. Diners can choose from the bar or restaurant menus, or a mix of each. The affordable all-day bar menu features "sharing jar" appetizers ($5 each or three for $14) like silky butterbean hummus with confit olive and "snacks" ($7–$12) such as the crispy fried green tomatoes topped with a tingly blend of horseradish sauce and crumbled blue cheese. "Plates" range from the Crossroads Salad ($8) to a six-ounce steakburger ($9) and BBQ shrimp po'boy ($12), making Crossroads a reasonable splurge.

    The signature cocktails I tried, the Carolina Lemonade and Blackberry Fizz ($10 each), were not especially memorable, though the server was successful in suggesting wines to complement entrees chosen from the restaurant's dinner menu. A glass of Carletto Pinot Grigio ($9) was just right for the clean flavors of roasted apple, corn and Swiss chard with cider moonshine reduction. It supported a plump, perfectly cooked Sunburst trout filet ($22). And a robust pour of Belltown Cabernet Sauvignon ($10) was a good choice for cutting through the richness of the fork-tender short rib pot roast with lightly roasted fall vegetables ($24).

    There are plenty of other temptations on the menu, including vegetarian-friendly mushroom-and-Carolina-Gold-rice cakes with stewed pigeon peas, pumpkin and braised kale ($18) and wild boar meatloaf with buttermilk smashed potatoes and charred carrots ($23). Next time...

    You'll be able to boast of extraordinary resolve if you're able to push away the dessert menu ($5–$10) without placing an order. We were unable to resist the gingery pear crisp topped with a quenelle of sorghum-butter pecan ice cream and pistachio pie garnished with mascarpone and a drizzle of the inn's signature honey.

    Crossroads is still led by Executive Chef James Clark, who is as happy with the $400,000 behind-the-scenes improvements in the kitchen as he is with the splendid dining room. New refrigerators have been installed and the work flow improved to serve hotel guests and diners who should fill the added seats. The kitchen was closed three days longer than planned because the 40-year-old ventilation system's replacement needed a new steel infrastructure to support its weight.

    "It was frustrating, but it's great now," Clark said while surveying the meals, many of them cooked on his favorite battered old pans."We couldn't get rid of those. That's where all the goodness comes from."
    This post first appeared in Indy Week.

    20th anniversary: Goat Lady Dairy has become a model of long-term success

    Goat Lady Dairy’s Steve Tate,
surrounded by his upgraded facilities

    Goat Lady Dairy’s Steve Tate, surrounded by his upgraded facilities
    Steve Tate explains that there are three kinds of farms.
    There are hobby farms, where owners dabble in growing produce or raising animals with the goal of feeding themselves and sharing the abundance with friends. There are lifestyle farms, where the dabbling expands to active selling—first to break even and then, perhaps, establishing a successful, even sustainable business model.
    “And then there are livelihood farms, which are the only kind you can pass on,” says Tate, co-owner of Goat Lady Dairy, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month in the Randolph County town of Climax. “We’re not quite there, but that’s what we’ve been building toward for the past three years. We want to retire, and we don’t want to just turn off the lights here, which is what happens to so many small farms.”
    It doesn’t appear that it will happen at Goat Lady. During the last half-decade, the Tates have taken considerable steps to ensure that the farm will outlive their tenure on it. In turn, one of North Carolina’s pioneering goat cheese outlets has upped its output considerably, becoming a leader in small-scale cheese production. The journey, though, has rarely been certain.
    The award-winning operation started as a hobby farm in 1984, when Tate’s sister, Ginnie, bought 42 acres of land in northeastern Randolph County. Located about an hour west of Chapel Hill, the abandoned tobacco farm became her refuge from the demands of her job as a nurse administrator.
    She’d grown up on a corn farm in Illinois, so the parcel—complete with a 200-year-old log cabin and barns in ruin—felt like a perfect fit. She originally called it Nubie Acres, a nod to the two pet Nubian goats she acquired while living in Coneta, a tiny community near the state’s eastern end. While living there, she had acquired a nickname for herself as the herd grew.
    “It was unincorporated and didn’t have any rules,” Tate recalls with a chuckle, one of several that bubbles up when talking about his older sister. “When she got home from work, she would take the goats from their pen and walk them through town, like you’d walk your dogs. That’s where she first got her reputation as ‘the goat lady.’”
    click to enlargePHOTO BY JILL WARREN LUCAS
    • Photo by Jill Warren Lucas
    Eventually, in Climax, locals first got to know Ginnie when she opened her farm to the public for basil and garlic festivals intended to help visitors appreciate the importance of small-scale farming. She later held events to demonstrate the appeal of raising affectionate goats and using their milk for cheese. She’d drive around with gleefully shrieking goats loaded into her Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, too.
    “She was a very curious, energetic person,” Tate says of his sister, who died from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2009, the same year she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Conservation Trust for North Carolina. “You never quite knew where her passion would take her.”
    Agricultural leaders in Raleigh soon began to understand as much after she mastered volume milking and making artisan cheese. By the late ’80s, Ginnie was consulting with experts at N.C. State University and the state Department of Agriculture about turning her hobby farm into a bona fide cheese business.
    “They laughed at her,” Steve recalls. “They said, ‘No one in Central North Carolina wants goat cheese—or even knows what it is.’”
    Confident they were as wrong as the naysayers who believed the U.S. could never produce wine that would compete with European labels, Ginnie forged ahead. Steve says there was just one artisan cheese maker in North Carolina at the time, Celebrity Dairy in nearby Siler City. That provided inspiration, as did a trio of women achieving critical acclaim making goat cheese: Mary Keehn of Cypress Grove in California, Allison Hopper of Vermont Creamery and Judy Schad at Capriole in southern Indiana.
    “She was a pioneer here just as they were in their states,” Steve explains. “They all were eccentric, ambitious women who started making great cheese with little goat herds. She was convinced people would buy good goat cheese, and she was right.”
    Goat Lady Dairy became a licensed cheese-making business in 1995. Steve and his wife, Lee, moved their family from Minnesota to join the operation. They now live in a cabin across the street on an additional 15-acre parcel acquired to give the growing herd more room to roam.
    A decade later, some of those same agricultural consultants and professors invited Ginnie to lead a workshop for farmers who wanted to add value to their farms by producing cheese or other signature products. This amused her.
    “She said she would,” Steve remembers, “but she’d also tell the story how they laughed at her.”
    Indeed, Goat Lady was on the leading edge of the artisanal cheese movement, particularly for North Carolina, which now has at least 30 licensed cheese-producing dairies. Tate believes that moderate weather and exceptional grazing land help North Carolina dairies produce such outstanding cheese.
    “And most of those have goats,” Tate notes of the farms. “I like to say North Carolina has become the Vermont of the South, because we have more cheese makers than any other Southern state.”
    click to enlargePHOTO BY JILL WARREN LUCAS
    • Photo by Jill Warren Lucas
    In July, Goat Lady’s savory Roasted Red Pepper Chevre nabbed an award at the American Cheese Society’s annual conference and competition. Another entrant, Providence, took third place honors, too, bringing Goat Lady’s tally of highly competitive ACS awards to nine. Not bad for a cheese that stemmed from a blunder, says Tate.
    “Our Providence cheese was a mistake. I was trying to make a washed rind cheese, like a taleggio,” Tate explains, laughing as he describes the resulting aged goat milk cheese that, unlike a semi-soft taleggio, is firm enough to grate like Parmesan. “Thankfully, it became something even better.”
    In general, however, Goat Lady has grown more deliberate. While Ginnie Tate lived to see her dream become a successful business, her passing led Steve and Lee to focus on the company’s long-term viability. They intend to sell the farm and retire in 2016. Alexander Kast, Goat Lady’s head cheese maker, and Carrie Bradds, the cheese room manager, are among several parties interested in the purchase.
    “Whatever happens,” Tate says, “the current managers will take a leading role in carrying the business on. It will be part of the deal.”
    This process has been in the works for years. In 2012, Goat Lady launched a major transformation, including a significant building expansion that remade a clay floor goat barn and milking parlor as a high-tech production center. Customized pasteurization machinery and other precision devices allow Goat Lady to better monitor processes and ensure more consistent outcomes.
    A year later, they hired Kast, an internationally trained cheese maker and a former cheese monger and buyer for Southern Season. And later in 2013, a $300,000 USDA Value-Added Producer Grant pushed the business’ consistency and quality even higher.
    “If we hadn’t gotten that grant, I don’t know if we could have made it,” Tate says. “People want to see the romance of local food and farming, but it’s a very risky thing.”
    The risks are yielding rewards, at least. Goat Lady is poised to produce 90,000 pounds of cheese by the end of 2015, a massive jump from 40,000 pounds in 2012. It recently picked up a major new account, Chop’t, a fast-casual salad chain opening soon in Charlotte, with Raleigh and other North Carolina locations to follow in 2016. Tate also anticipates expanding from Whole Foods’ Southern market to the chain’s mid-Atlantic and Rocky Mountain regions.
    Such achievements give Goat Lady plenty of reasons to celebrate its 20th-anniversary milestone. The party started Monday with a dinner for industry partners prepared by an all-star group of North Carolina chefs. And on Saturday afternoon, a public party will welcome fans back to an annual Open Farm Day event. Visitors will be able to meet the farmers and cheese makers, as well as some of the goats that produce the milk for the Goat Lady’s award-winning cheeses. Ginnie Tate, Climax’s Goat Lady, would have liked that.
    “It’s important for people to visit farms and understand where their food comes from,” Tate says, recalling a befuddled tour participant who asked sincerely if they have to kill goats to remove their cheese. “When we change a person’s relationship with food, we change them and the world for the better.”
    This article appeared in print with the headline Getting their goat.

    A day at the farm

    The day started early at Goat Lady Dairy, with head cheese maker Alexander Kast leaving his Pittsboro home around 4:40 a.m. for a 40-minute drive to the bucolic farm in rural Randolph County. Steve Tate’s commute took only about two minutes, from when he filled a coffee cup in his kitchen to when he arrived at his office across the street.
    The pair was working on a batch of its top-selling Lindale cheese, a Dutch-style gouda. They began with 240 gallons of buttery yellow cow milk from Williams Dairy, their neighbor two miles down the road.

    “It doesn’t get much fresher than that,” Tate offered with a grin.

    Pumped into stainless steel vats, it frothed like a child’s bubble bath. After warming and swirling it with a propriety blend of culture and rennet, they expelled much of the milk’s content as watery whey, retained for
    use as pig feed and pasture fertilizer. After four months of controlled cave aging, the process will produce 20 10-pound wheels of smooth, creamy cheese.

    The chevre on which Goat Lady first built its reputation is still produced at the facility. Hundreds of tempting rounds, like the ash-lined Sandy Creek and lightly smoked Smokey Mountain, age in temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms. They will be hand wrapped for sale in perfect folds of breathable paper, though the countless logs of fresh chevre are no longer individually rolled by hand. Thanks to the 2013 USDA grant that helped fund Goat Lady’s expansion, the cheese is efficiently piped into shrink-wrapped logs that rest on rolling shelf carts while awaiting packaging.

    The aging room held a few mystery cheeses, too, experiments for established or prospective clients. “It’s going to be a feta—I think,” Tate said, tapping a square of cheese firming up on a top shelf with evident optimism. “Or, who knows? It might be something even better.”

    Thursday, September 17, 2015

    PieBird, Raleigh's pie-only institution, closes, at least for now

    lick to enlargepiebird_logo.png
      PieBird, a leader in the revitalization of downtown Raleigh's North Person district, quietly closed its doors Sept. 8. Owner Sheilagh Sabol Cassidy says the business is in the process of restructuring and she hopes to reopen soon.

      Named for the gadget that allows steam to vent from a baking pie, the all-pie eatery launched in March 2011. Bounded by the Oakwood and Mordecai neighborhoods, the North Person Street sector was a different place then, with paper covering the windows of long abandoned storefronts. Cassidy's friends told her she was crazy to invest in a business there, but PieBird's sweet and savory options quickly found an appreciative audience.

      The area is now lined with bustling shops and restaurants. Niall Hanley of Raleigh Beer Garden and the Hibernian pubs opened The Station directly across the street from PieBird in November 2013. Chef Scott Crawford's long-awaited Standard Foods is expected to open around the corner later this month. There's a book shop and a bakery, a wine store and a bike business. And a popular Raleigh-based food truck aims to open its first brick-and-mortar operation nearby.

      "It's a loss for the area. They'll be missed," says Chad McIntyre of the restaurant at Person Street Pharmacy, located just steps from PieBird's locked front door. "They definitely helped get the area back on track as a business-and-residential destination. I don't think it would have been as much of a draw without them."

      This post first appeared in Indy Week.

      Monday, September 14, 2015

      Peach-fig chutney

      I hit the jackpot a few weeks ago at the Whole Foods annual peach sale, where I bought a 25-pound box of Georgia peaches for about $17. 

      Or so I thought. The box was never weighed and I was encouraged to top it off to ensure I had at least 25 pounds. Given how many canning recipes I've completed, I have to believe I brought home a much heavy haul. 

      After making peach riesling jelly, peach mustard, peach raspberry jam and peach butter, I'm glad that I resisted the urge to get two boxes. 

      The project that generated the most interest among friends has been the chutney, which I thought of as a way to feature figs shared by a friend. I couldn't find anything quite like what I was looking for in my canning books or online. I was especially grateful when Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics, a terrific site for creative canners, offered to take a look at my plan. He pronounced it safe. Now that it's done, I pronounce it delicious.

      The only change I've made to the recipe below is to add more chili flakes. I started with a too-subtle 1/2 teaspoon, which kept the heat at little more than a suggestion. If you're a chili head, by all means use more.

      Peach-Fig Chutney

      4 pounds yellow peaches (about 8-9 cups, peeled and chopped into chunks)
      1 medium yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup)
      1 cup dried apricots, diced
      11/2  cup fresh figs, quartered
      1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
      1 cup white sugar
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
      2 tsp grated ginger
      1 tsp kosher salt
      1 tsp red chili flakes
      zest and juice of 1 lemon

      Place all ingredients in canning pot. Warm gradually, increasing heat to medium for a slow bubble. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.

      When figs have melted and peach chunks are tender, transfer 2-3 cups of mixture to blender and puree until smooth. Return to canning pot and increase heat to medium high. Stir often and carefully - mixture may generate volcano-like eruptions when stirred - until mixture has become as thick as a jam or preserve. If uncertain, test on a plate or metal spoons well chilled in the freezer. If the sample wrinkles or can be pressed into a clean streak, it's ready.

      Fill prepared canning jars and process in water bath 15 minutes.

      Wednesday, August 26, 2015

      The renovated Nasher Museum invites you to choose your own adventure

      Nasher contemporary art curator Marshall Price
      shows off a restored 1858 oil painting of
      Henry Ward Beecher by Francis Bicknell Carpenter.
      Just days before it reopens to the public, the Nasher Museum of Art's Wilson Pavilion looks little like a world-class museum. Closed for renovation since April, the unfinished galleries seem more like the backstage of a burlesque theater, with some of its biggest stars only half-dressed.
      Dozens of priceless objects are arranged on padded moving quilts laid over temporary tables, including an astounding assortment of Mesoamerican artifacts tucked between pristine, sock-size sandbags.
      "Don't you love all the color?" asks Sarah Schroth, the museum's director. She can see past the dust toward the realization of her vision: sterile white walls transformed by rich hues that imbue thematic spaces with vibrancy.
      "Painting the walls just does amazing things for the art. Like that piece," she says, gesturing at a large Mayan figure—an earth-toned incense burner that would have sent smoke billowing from its angry nostrils and chin. Waiting to be installed beside it on the chocolate-brown wall is a bead necklace and ear spools not unlike those worn by today's hipster artisans.
      "These brown walls are perfect in here," Schroth adds, with a look of bemused satisfaction. "I mean, in addition to making all this art, [the Mayans] did invent chocolate, after all."
      Schroth's excitement is understandable. On Aug. 27, Wilson Pavilion reopens to reveal 5,700 square feet of reimagined display space. Nine distinct spaces, including a welcoming entry featuring never-before-seen Navajo textiles, were designed by curators in collaboration with exhibition designer Brad Johnson.
      click to enlargenasher-gallery-map.jpg
        Wilson Pavilion is the largest of the Nasher's galleries. While others have spotlighted marquee names, such as the recent exhibit of late works by Joan Miró;, Wilson has always featured art from the museum's permanent collection. But before the renovation, with fewer walls and space reserved for faculty and student art, only 3 to 4 percent of the Nasher's 11,000-piece permanent collection was available to visitors. Now Wilson will house more than four times the number of objects previously displayed. When the current exhibit ends, many pieces will return to storage so other holdings can take their places.
        While museum exhibits are often designed around a prescribed pedestrian flow, Schroth believes the Wilson redesign will achieve the goal of encouraging visitors to choose their own path.
        "We want visitors to look through a doorway and go to the space that draws their interest," says Molly Boarati, assistant curator of European art. "And when they're done there, they can do it again and again. We want them to build relationships with pieces—old favorites and new ones—so they'll want to keep coming back to experience the museum."
        click to enlargeTom Mole paints boxes that will support pieces from the Nasher Musem's collection as remodeling work is done Monday August 17, 2015 at the museum in Durham - PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER
        • Photo by Alex Boerner
        • Tom Mole paints boxes that will support pieces from the Nasher Musem's collection as remodeling work is done Monday August 17, 2015 at the museum in Durham
        Because the Nasher is part of Duke, it plays an important role in facilitating discourse among students and faculty. Two undergraduate interns were responsible for staging an exhibit of 18 images by one of the world's best-known photographers—and boldly choosing two in the collection of 20 to edit out. Sharp Focus: Ansel Adams and American Photography, in Wilson's Incubator gallery, is both an inspiring show and a whopper of a résumé-builder. Other displays, intended to challenge planners as well as viewers, will follow.
        More of the Nasher's contemporary collection will be revealed Oct. 1. After its current show concludes Aug. 30, the 3,600-square-foot Brenda LaGrange Johnson and Heather Johnson Sargent Pavilion will be renovated to serve as the permanent home for the museum's extensive holdings by modern artists. Exhibits here will also rotate to demonstrate the scope of the collection.
        Modern art curator Marshall Price will be heavily involved with that transformation. He's already created a dynamic juxtaposition of cubist and self-taught art, otherwise known as folk art, in Wilson's Modern gallery. The apparently coincidental similarities between Picasso's 1960 painting "Tete de femme (Head of a Woman)" and a collection of expressive face jugs made in the 1990s by rural North Carolina potters are striking.
        Image courtesy Nasher Museum
        More impressive, however, is Price's dedication to a portrait of the renowned abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher in the American gallery. While many photos of Beecher exist, Price says there are few paintings, and perhaps no others notated as being "from life," like this one.
        The brother of Uncle Tom's Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe, Beecher posed in 1858 for artist Francis Bicknell Carpenter, who later painted a from-life portrait of Abraham Lincoln presenting the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet. Determined to include Beecher in a group of three paintings to demonstrate how portraiture changed from the European-style formality of 1812 to this more relaxed example, Price was disappointed to discover it was seriously damaged.
        Following restoration, which Price describes as "the most extensive the museum had ever undertaken," the Beecher portrait is a standout that shows the influential pastor radiating the light of knowledge and faith.
        "It was amazing, like bringing Lazarus back from the dead," Price says. Though the Nasher itself was far from dead, this renovation promises to also give it a new lease on life.
        click to enlargeNasher Museum Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Marshall Price, left, and Museum Director Sarah Schroth, right, look over a Mayan ceramic incense burner that will be on display when the gallery opens after being remodeled. - PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER
        • Photo by Alex Boerner
        • Nasher Museum Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Marshall Price, left, and Museum Director Sarah Schroth, right, look over a Mayan ceramic incense burner that will be on display when the gallery opens after being remodeled.


        Marshall Price spends a lot of time in galleries and museums. As curator of modern and contemporary art at the Nasher, it's his job to see the most talked-about exhibits and bring back ideas for ways to make the Duke University museum more engaging.
        When he visited the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, he saw something so extraordinary, so bold and electric, that he felt the hair stand up on the back on his neck.
        click to enlarge8.26_fall-guide_visual-art_richard-mosse-video.jpg
          "I don't experience that very often," says Price, who found that Sarah Schroth, the Nasher's director, felt equally compelled to bring Richard Mosse's The Enclaveto Durham for the museum's 10th anniversary. "It absolutely blew me away. Photography in conflict areas creates an ethical dilemma for viewers when they see such extraordinary beauty." The immersive 40-minute video installation about civil unrest in eastern Congo will make its Southeastern debut at Wilson Pavilion Aug. 27 and can be seen through Jan. 10.
          Mosse is an Irish-born photographer who works in Philadelphia and New York City. He uses Kodak Aerochrome, a film stock developed for government surveillance purposes. It translates vegetation and camouflage from earthen greens into vivid shades of pink and purple, creating a surreal beauty amid the chaos of political instability and human crisis.
          While Mosse embedded with groups that participated in aggressive activities, Price says there is no "overt violence" in the film, which will be displayed on six screens suspended from the ceiling. "The suggestion of violence ... is more powerful than actually seeing it," he says. "And the music is absolutely haunting."
          Meet Mosse in an artist talk and opening event at 7 p.m. Aug. 27.
          This post first appeared in print in Indy Week with the headline "Fresh paint"

          Triangle bars explore mezcal culture, but keep it neat

          Dos Perros
          Agave With Arturo, a tequila and mezcal pairings dinner
          7pm Sept. 15
          $68 per person, not including tax and gratuity
          200 N. Mangum St., Durham

          In his four years of tending bar at Durham's Dos Perros, Arturo Sanchez has watched his share of fools slam tequila and throw back tear-inducing shots of smoky mezcal. But aficionados of these agave-based spirits are increasingly bringing refinement bar-side.
          Christian Madezen of The Crunkleton
          in Chapel Hill suggests The Last Word as an
          introduction to the smoky charm of mezcal.
          Indy Week photo by Alex Boerner.
          "People want to experience these spirits much in the way they do fine wine," Sanchez says.
          He swirls an amber pour of Don Julio Añejo tequila in a slender flute to observe its "legs," or the liquid that languorously drips down the glass.
          "You should sniff it deeply to get a sense of the barrel—usually oak—then sip, swish and hold it for five seconds before swallowing to bring all the flavors together," he continues before doing just that. "Now that's what tequila should taste like."
          Celebrity endorsements of tequila, like George Clooney's high-end Casamigos, are helping to remake the spirit's image among those who may have sworn off the stuff after a hangover-inducing experience in college. Small-batch mezcal is finding its place in the craft cocktail revolution, too, thanks locally to Raleigh's Gallo Pelón Mezcalería, the only such bar in the Southeast. U.S. tipplers remain fairly timid about embracing mezcal's smoky charms and sometimes funky aroma, especially straight up.
          But manager Marshall Davis sourced more than 40 choices for the upstairs spot, including Mezcal Vago Elote. The drink achieves its Scotch-like flavor from an infusion of smoked corn. Served in a shallow clay cup with a savory pinch of chapuline (fried grasshopper) salt on the side, a pour will set you back $11. If you've got it to spare, it's cash well spent.
          "Some mezcals smell like burning tires or gym socks," says Davis, whose current favorite is the mineral-rich Mezcalero Batch #5. A rare find, only 636 bottles were produced in 2012 before the maker destroyed the still. Gallo Pelón has two. "To me, and a lot of agave heads, mezcal's weirdness makes it something we really want to try."
          Masking mezcal's earthy qualities with mixers distracts from its essential appeal, agrees Sanchez, who recently returned from a tastings trip to the state of Jalisco, home of the town of Tequila.
          "A lot of people are afraid of drinking it neat, but in Mexico, if you ordered mezcal in a cocktail, they'd think you were crazy," Sanchez says. "A Mezcal Mule is a good introduction for people who aren't sure if they'll like it, but if you really want to appreciate mezcal, drink it straight."
          Chapel Hill's The Crunkleton, famed for its deep bourbon collection, currently has seven mezcals, more than double what you'll find in North Carolina ABC stores. You can even go big with a $53 1.5-ounce shot of Del Maguey Pechuga. The clean flavor comes from triple distillation, including the last-round addition of wild fruits and a raw, skinless chicken breast.
          "I know it sounds strange, but it's a classic technique," says owner Gary Crunkleton, who recently tried a variation distilled with Ibérico ham. "It's always made as the last harvest of the year, a sort of gift to the gods. Once you taste it, you get it."
          Crunkleton bartender Christian Madsen is a particular fan of artisanal mezcal, which he says is affected by terroir, much like fine wine. "Mezcal from the highlands is sweeter, while mezcal from the lowlands tends to be more grassy," he says. "Factor in 40 types of agave, different water sources—you get the picture."

          How to buy mezcal and tequila in the Triangle and how to use it

          When shopping for tequila, our experts recommend only buying brands with the “NOM” designation on the label, which confirms production at an authorized Mexican distillery. Certified mezcals will state use of espadin agave, too. Monte Alban should be left on the shelf. For a decent drink, Dos Perros’ Sanchez recommends Fidencio for its lean body and fruit finish. Price, though, considers Del Maguey Vida the best local option. No matter what you choose, skip any bottle that boasts a worm, rattlesnake head or similarly nasty additive. Crunkleton says that Oaxacan producers, who “create their own distillate to honor their distinct community and culture,” never demean their product with crass marketing ploys.
          And if you can’t resist the urge to use mezcal in a cocktail, try these easy-to-make drinks at home.
          SKINNY DIP (ARTURO SANCHEZ, DOS PERROS): Muddle five lime wedges in a shaker, then add 1.5 ounces of silver tequila, .75 ounces of orange liquor and ice. Shake and pour into glass rimmed with smoked paprika, ground chiles and coarse salt.
          SPICY PEPINO (CHRISTIAN MADSEN, THE CRUNKLETON): Muddle a slice of cucumber in a shaker, then add 1.5 ounces mezcal, .75 ounces of lime juice, .5 ounces of simple syrup and dashes of cayenne and salt. Shake and strain into ice-filled glass rimmed with salt. Garnish with a cucumber slice.
          SMOKY PALOMA (MARSHALL DAVIS, GALLO PELÓN MEZCALERIA): Muddle a slice of habanero pepper in a shaker, then add 1 ounce of mezcal, 1 ounce of reposado tequila, 1 ounce of fresh grapefruit juice, 1 ounce of cane syrup and .5 ounces of fresh lime juice. Shake, then strain into a glass. Top with soda water.
          This post first appeared in print in Indy Week with the headline "Upstairs, down South"