BREAKING NEWS: This intrepid reporter witnessed a monumental gathering on Monday that will live in infamy. After witnessing this event, I’m now convinced that dogs and cats will be playing in the streets, there will be peace in the Middle East, and Roy Williams will have Coach K over for beer and pizza. Yes, at Piedmont Restaurant, a group of computer-minded bloggers broke bread with local gastronomes (OK, I’ll call them foodies), and everyone had plenty to talk about. Michael Ruhlman, one of the country’s finest food writers, was the featured guest of this event, which was sponsored by BlogTogether. Ruhlman spoke about his fairly recent venture into the world of food blogging, explaining why he enjoys writing for free, even when it distracts from his paying work. He encouraged all food bloggers to be civil in tone, and more importantly (and in the words of his mentor Reynolds Mentor), not to be boring. The evening certainly was not boring.
Chefs Drew Brown and Andy Magowan prepared a 5 course meal, featuring the pork from Cane Creek Farm and other local products. Highlights were the white sweet potato soup with house made pancetta and a scuppernong granita. The scuppernong is an oft-overlooked grape, particularly with desserts, but its complexity of flavor makes it perfect for many fruit based dishes (as long as you can figure out a good way to use the skin and seeds!). It seemed that everyone at our table commented — between the “mmms” and “wows” — on how the granita had several distinct flavor profiles. The food was really top-notch, and the meal reminded me of how much I wish Piedmont were in Raleigh.
Ruhlman may be everywhere — books, TV shows, magazine articles, blogs — and he’s known as Anthony Bourdain’s sidekick, but he’s actually the typical writer, preferring the isolationistic existence common to the profession. He was genuinely modest and a bit shy at times. However, he truly was excited to be here, and he hit it off with everyone in attendance. Maybe it’s because computer nerds are also creatures who spend lots of time alone (and I use the term “nerd” with great affection, as I’m a recovering science nerd). Thus, maybe this evening was pure fate, an occasion destined to happen.
And so, the evening was filled with laughter, good food and wine, and great conversation. But then, come to think of it, isn’t that really the best formula to get two relatively disparate groups to come together?
Kudos to my new friend, Anton Zuiker, who did 100% of the work in putting this event together. Anton’s passion in bringing together the North Carolina blogging community is amazing, and I salute him. Anton’s account of the evening can be found here.
Chef Drew Brown