Thursday, February 6, 2020

The grit whisperer

(Also, nice mention of Bill Neal, founder of Crooks Corner and granddaddy of Southern Nouveau)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

We Are The Weather

We started a quarterly "Book of the Season" sale in November with Emily Wallace's Road Sides. This month we introduce We are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer

Image result for we are the weather

Our blurb:

Jonathan Safran Foer’s We are the Weather tackles global warming, our eating habits, and the helplessness we feel in the face of corporations and legislators that are ruining the environment for our children. Disturbing in a cathartic way, his alarmist prose activates with humor and pathos, spurring us to question our daily activities and the politicians who would deign ignore the obvious disruption to Mother Nature’s ordinary workings. Just as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me was penned as a letter on race to his son, Foer frames his polemic through both the lens of his children and his Holocaust-surviving grandmother. For the sake of your children and grandchildren, read this book now!

We seem to be in a cultural moment where we are highly focused on recipes and cookbooks detailing  archetypal comfort food (e.g. hummus, babka, artisan pizza). I heard a podcast yesterday where David Chang went on at length to describe his "perfect" BLT. Safran Foer's book seems to beg the question: What if the massive collection of all these rediscovered homespun recipes like pie crust and biscuits and mandelbrot are some of the last that will be published before civilization-changing climate change decimates the food culture we have come to exalt and fetishize as so called "foodies"? What kind of world will it be where New York-style pizza is no longer readily available and also no recipes exist for how to make it, and even if one could make it, there is no commercial yeast, or no conventional roller-milled white flour (fyi - white flour was only available to the rich in the 1800s)? Baking and cooking recipes/processes/methods are not only technology, but knowledge that could disappear in a generation or less. Let's commit to treasuring and saving recipes for delicious handmade, homemade food.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020


The average customer perception in 2020 in Durham is that there are more good restaurants and openings than ever before, but the possibility of oversaturation and market dilution due to online food purchasing, changing diets, and changing work patterns has sparked the fear nerve centers for many restaurateurs. Fine dining holds less cache than it once did, and while this is a small segment of the overall dining public, it is seen as a bellweather for the health and vitality of the industry.  Satisfaction, Tyler's Taproom, Cuban Revolution, Watts Grocery, Blu Seafood, Primal, Big Bundts, Saint & Co. The Boot, Bagel Bar, and Lilly's all closed in 2019. Some of those restaurants were decade(s)-plus mainstays of the community. Greater are the number of restaurants under financial pressure to make it in an environment with a shallow labor pool for skilled kitchen talent and the long pockets of corporate players (such as Wholefoods) and well-capitalized restaurant groups outbidding the smaller players for hiring. In addition, January and February can typically be two of the slowest months all year -- these doldrums amp up the anxiety in restaurant management. 

Outside of the industry, I sense fear, and sometimes feel overwhelmed by a host of bad things that dominate the news, both local and national. Am I the only one? Cell phone distraction, random violence and police brutality, nightly car burglaries, daily car accidents on I-40, climate change disturbances to our growing seasons, child deaths and carbon monoxide poisonings in Macdougald Terrace, a fake Trump impeachment trial, saber rattling in Iran, Kobe Bryant dying in a horrific accident, and the looming one-year anniversary of the Kaffeinate explosion (that took out a city block, was cleared to the foundation, and on top of which will be built what?) which seems largely forgotten. What happened to #durhamstrong? Where is Durham and the country going I ask?

Ninth Street Bakery is protected from some of these prevailing winds by our loyal customer base, our reach into different wholesale bread markets, and our central location in Downtown Durham. Nonetheless, we feel these feelings too and hope that everyone supports good local foods and farmers this Winter and early Spring.