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Pintful: Don't make a growler run just yet

As a political reporter/beer columnist at the newspaper, I get a lot of questions about the two beer bills the state legislature sent to Gov. Pat McCrory this week.

Most folks want to know how quickly their favorite bottle shop or Whole Foods will serve growlers, as allowed under House Bill 829. Or other folks want to know when the Durham Bulls will serve Carolina Brewery and Foothills in the stands at baseball games. The short answer: not right away.

The legislation is effective upon the governor's signature. McCrory is likely to sign the bills, given the overwhelming support in the legislature. He has 10 days to act or they become law. But both bills ask the N.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Commission to put in place rules before they take effect. In the case of growlers, the commission must adopt rules about sanitation of growlers being filled by Jan. 1. For in-stand beer sales at professional sporting events, the commission must approve rules about the "suspension of alcohol sales in the latter portion of professional sporting events in order to protect public safety at these events."

It's unclear how long it will take the ABC Commission to make the rules. It can create temporary ones in cases like this, which don't take as long to formulate. But the formal rule making process can take six to eight months, said Agnes Stevens, a spokeswoman.

Kai Sushi & Sake Bar now open in North Raleigh

This is a post by N&O restaurant critic Greg Cox:

Sung Chung, a veteran chef whose 20-year career began in California and has locally included Asuka and Hayashi, has opened Kai Sushi & Sake Bar (7713 Lead Mine Road; 919-870-4923) in Greystone Village.

Chung has given the former Stella Mare space a complete makeover, transforming it from timeworn pizzeria into upscale-casual Japanese restaurant with an understated decor in earth tones.

The sushi offering covers all the bases, including a list of nearly 30 specialty rolls.
Sprinkled in among familiar names like Rainbow, Spider and Volcano, a handful of signature rolls inspired by raw fish traditions of other cultures set Kai’s list apart from the crowd. The Hawaiian Poke Tuna Roll, for instance, and the Peruvian Pearl - which gets a note of authenticity from a South American aji amarillo chile sauce.

Kai’s kitchen menu serves up a few surprises, too, among them a section dedicated to char-grilled robatayaki fare. Other alternatives to the usual tempura, teriyaki and bento routine include tuna hotpot, Korean bibimbap, and broiled-eel-and-grilled pineapple kabayaki.

The bar lives up to the restaurant’s second namesake specialty with a selection of half a dozen or so sakes, including at least one premium unfiltered bottling.
Kai Sushi & Sake Bar serves lunch Monday-Friday, and is open for dinner nightly.

The restaurant doesn’t have a website yet, but you can find it on Facebook.

Send restaurant news to Greg at ggcox@bellsouth.net. Be sure to tune in to Greg's radio show at 11 a.m. Saturdays on WPTF.

Congrats to Stoke & Smoke BBQ food truck

The Stoke & Smoke BBQ food truck took home the grand champion prize at a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned competition in Kannapolis, N.C. last month.

That means truck owner Michael Lewis and his crew got an invitation to compete at the American Royal, considered the “World Series” of barbecue contests this fall. And they are in the lottery to compete at the Jack Daniels Wold Championship Invitational contest in October.

If you would like to taste their winning barbecue, the Stoke & Smoke BBQ truck will be at the Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo from noon-5 p.m. Sunday on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. (downtownraleighfoodtruckrodeo.com). Or the truck will be at the Durham Food Truck Rodeo from 12:30-4:30 p.m. June 16 (durhamcentralpark.org).

Or find out where the truck will be serving food on its Facebook page (goo.gl/hj7w5) or by following the truck on Twitter, @stokeandsmoke.

Save the date for TerraVITA in Chapel Hill

There was a possibility that TerraVITA, an annual food and wine event in Chapel Hill, would be no more.

Organizer Colleen Minton had done the event for three years on her own, in her spare time and barely making any money on the endeavor. This year, she had to take a fulltime job, which left her wondering if she would have the time and energy to continue organizing TerraVITA.

Well the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau has come to the rescue. The organization has provided funding so Minton can hire two part-time employees to help her organize the event. Minton will still run the show but won’t have to do as much legwork.

And now, Minton has set a date for this fall’s event: Oct. 10-12. Tickets will go on sale online July 12 at TerraVITAevent.com.

TerraVITA is an unusual event that lets attendees sample food from some of the best chefs and artisan food purveyors in North Carolina as well as sample great biodynamic and organic wines and North Carolina microbrews.

Pintful: Beer tasting events, Tour de Fat on the calendar

A number of local beer events can help cure those midweek blues and mark your calendars for New Belgium's Tour de Fat later this month.

Mystery Brewing Tasting 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Bottle Mixx in Raleigh

The Mystery team from Hillsborough will pour three beers for $10 at the Raleigh bottle shop in the Brennan Station Shopping Center, 8111 Creedmoor Road. Info: bottlemixx.com.

Fruit Beer Tasting 7-10 p.m. Wednesday at James Joyce Irish Pub in Durham

The bar is offering a chance to taste the fruits of the season – in beer form, of course. Six pours for $12. Info: jamesjoyceirishpub.com.

Paradoxos beer event 5:30-10 p.m. Thursday in downtown Durham

The Paradoxos conference is hosting a live music and beer tasting event at 201 Corcoran St. downtown. Sixteen craft beers will be available to sample. Eight-ounce pours are $3. Fullsteam, Lonerider, Bull City, Triangle, Raleigh, New Belgium and Carolina Brewery are participating.

New Belgium’s Tour de Fat 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 15 in Durham

Hosted at the Diamond View Park, this event from the Fort Collins brewery features all sorts of beer revelry, including a parade of bikes. It also raises money for local nonprofits. Info:facebook.com/TourDeFat.

Pintful: Mother Earth Brewing wants its craft origins clear

As craft beer surges, the mega brewers, like Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors, increasingly want a piece of the action. Now when you look at the cold case or the bar taps, it’s becoming harder to tell a craft beer from its “crafty” brethren.

Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston wants to make its origins clear. The company would put the Brewers Association logo on their bottle labels to signal their bona fides, becoming one of the first craft breweries in the nation to do so. Consider it the equivalent of Martin Luther’s theses tacked to the church door.

“When you are drinking Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Beer, you are not drinking a craft beer, but you don’t know that because there is no reference that it is made by SAB Miller,” wrote Trent Mooring, Mother Earth president and co-founder, in a recent statement announcing the label change.

The move puts the small Eastern North Carolina brewery in the middle of a national beer fight about what constitutes a craft beer and whether big brands are misleading customers. Read this week's full Pintful column here.

What's in season at the South Durham Farmers' Market

Each Wednesday, we check in with a local farmers market to see what’s in season at the market.

Jenna D’Amore, who is with the South Durham Farmers’ Market, shared this list of likely available produce: strawberries, fresh lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, kale, Swiss chard, carrots, garlic, fennel, summer squash, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, fresh herbs, bell peppers, onions, sugar snap peas, tart cherries, green tomatoes, spinach and hopefully, peaches.

The market also will have fresh and frozen beef, pork, goat and chicken, plus vendors are starting to sell cuts, like ham and pastrami. The market will have fresh eggs, cheese and bread made with North Carolina flour.

The market is 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, April-November; 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays, December-March. The market is 5410 N.C. 55, Durham (Greenwood Commons Shopping Center). Info: southdurhamfarmersmarket.org.

To find a farmers market near you, check our searchable database: goo.gl/ywnYr.

A reader is seeking a potato salad recipe

A reader, Paula Revello, is looking for a potato salad recipe.

Here’s her request: “I am from New York and many of our ‘deli’ stores make a potato salad that my family loves, but I have never been able to identify the key ingredient used in the dressing. The potatoes are always sliced extremely thin, as are some mild onions. The dressing is very light and tangy, almost watery. Could it be buttermilk and vinegar?”

If anyone has any recipes that fit the bill, send them to aweigl@newsobserver.com and I will share them with Revello.

White asparagus celebration returns this week to Capital Club 16

Raleigh’s Capital Club 16 is continuing its celebration of jumbo white asparagus.

Wednesday through Saturday, the restaurant will again offer nightly specials featuring the special asparagus in several dishes, plus German and Austrian wines pairings that go well with the delicate, delicious ingredient.

To make a reservation, call 919-747-9345. The restaurant is at 16 W. Martin St. Info: capitalclub16.com.

A chance to meet Nathalie Dupree at Southern Season

Nathalie Dupree will be in Chapel Hill on Sunday to sign copies of her latest cookbook, “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.”

Dupree, a Southern cooking expert who hosted her own cooking show on PBS for years, will sign books from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Southern Season in Chapel Hill. Info: southernseason.com.

Last month, Dupree and her co-author, Cynthia Graubart, won a James Beard award for “Mastering.” The James Beard awards – named after a cookbook author who championed American cuisine – are one of the highest honors in the cookbook world.