John Anton

In early April, Mandolin bar manager John Anton hopped on a plane to Lima to meet up with seven other bartenders from across the country. Each had won a national cocktail contest sponsored by Campo de Encanto, the makers of an ancient Peruvian liquor called pisco. The prize was a trip to Peru to learn how the spirit is distilled. When the group stepped off the plane, they were immediately greeted by the owner of the company and a bottle of pisco. It was 4:30 a.m.

Pisco is an old drink, made in Peru since the 1600’s. It’s distilled from grapes instead of grains, and it’s traditionally aged in clay containers that impart no color. The result is a smooth, clear spirit that some liken to grappa. Similar to wine, Anton claims “you can really taste where it came from,” due to the quality that the grapes impart.

James Beard Foundation
James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation announced the recipients of the 2013 Restaurant and Chef Awards on Monday night. Raleigh’s Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner was in the running for Best Chef in the Southeast, but the final award for that category went to Joseph Lenn of The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. Christensen was North Carolina’s only James Beard Award Nominee (finalist) this year, out of 13 semi-finalists in the state. Hear her interview with WUNC's State of Things.

There are days for cake, and days for ice cream and cookies. But every now and then, you crave a different kind of finish to a satisfying meal. Enter Atlantic Beach Pie, a salty and citrusy staple of the North Carolina coast.

Shelly Green with Durham's award for the Tastiest Town in the South
Leoneda Inge

It’s a booming year for the Durham food scene. In February, four of its restaurants became James Beard semi-finalists, and today Southern Living magazine declared Durham the “Tastiest Town in the South.”

John Anton, bar manager at Mandolin
courtesty of John Anton

If you’ve never heard of pisco, then you're not alone. But  Mandolin bar manager John Anton hopes to change that.  He wants to introduce pisco – a Peruvian grape brandy – to people in the Raleigh area willing to give it a go, and he believes that a trip to Peru to witness the makers of the spirit can help him do it. Anton will head to the Peruvian town of Ica next month, courtesy of pisco-maker Campo de Encanto, to watch a 90-year-old master pisco distiller in action.

Il Palio's buttermilk fried shrimp salad
Susan Reda

Patients at UNC Hospitals will soon be able to dine bedside on four-diamond fare from Il Palio at the Siena Hotel. UNC's Nutrition and Food Services Director Angelo Mojica is teaming up with Adam Rose, executive chef at Il Palio, to feature some of the restaurant's gourmet cuisine. UNC's Mojica says this kind of thing has never been done before in health care. He's in the process of reaching out to other high-end eateries in the Triangle and says it's a win-win for participating restaurants and UNC Hospitals.

Patients at UNC hospitals will soon be able to dine bedside on 4-diamond fare from Il Palio at the Siena Hotel. UNC's Nutrition and Food Services Director Angelo Mojica is teaming up with the executive chef from Il Palio - Adam Rose - to feature some of the restaurant's fine cuisine.