What is Your Favorite Wine?

by Elizabeth Cooper in Wine & Beer

What is your favorite wine? I must get asked this at least 5 times a day. It seems like such a simple question, but it becomes a daunting task to answer. Wine, for me, is extremely subjective. Like so many things in life, what I enjoy is influenced by the time of day, where I am, what mood I may be in, what is happening at the time and what I have consumed prior (food, beer, spirits, other wine…). Because of this, you will rarely… read more

Summer in North Carolina: It’s So Hard to Beat the Heat!

by Matt Hart in Wine & Beer, Cheese

We cheesemongers notice an enormous lull in the sales of semi-firm and firm cheeses come summertime (doubly so if your counter resides in a College town like ours does). It would appear that most folks don’t want to stuff firm or semi-firm cheeses into their skulls on hot summer days unless, of course, said cheeses are sliced and melted on a burger. While summertime sales of firm and semi-firm decline, the fresh cheeses… read more

The Color of Wine…

by Elizabeth Cooper in Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer


One of any bottle’s most recognizable characteristics, color is the element of wine that helps distinguish ripeness, development and, in some cases, varietal. The origins of color in wine can come from the skins, juice, fermentation and aging methods as well as simply the age of the wine itself. I recently had the opportunity to discuss the color of a particular wine with someone who insisted that red wines… read more

“Hey, there’s something in the bottom of my glass!”

by Elizabeth Cooper in Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer

“Hey, there’s something in the bottom of my glass!”…or on the end of the cork or even stuck to the lip and inside neck of the bottle; but what is it? I’ve been getting this question a lot lately. With the arrival of the “natural” wine movement, we are seeing many more unfiltered, unrefined wines on the market. This resurgence of wines in the raw has brought on more customer confusion. There… read more

Organic, Bio-Dynamic, Estate, Low Sulfite….so many choices, what do they all mean?

by Elizabeth Cooper in Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer

This is, of course, a vast subject that could literally span volumes; but in the interest of expediency and keeping this blog somewhat short and readable, I plan to just cover the highlights. I have, over the past months, had several inquiries regarding the questions, so I will do my best to answer them. Let me start by stating with absolute clarity: I am not a medical professional, I hold no degrees in science/chemistry,… read more

Dad wants cheese…duh!

by Matt Hart in Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer, Cheese

With Father’s Day approaching, it seems one could cut the nervous energy in the air with a knife (preferably a cheese knife). Although men contend they’re the more easy-going of the sexes, it is my humble opinion that we men are far pickier than our female counterparts when it comes to receiving gifts from loved ones. I can see it now: frantic, last-minute shopping by Mothers with children in tow, desperately scrambling… read more

As we spring into summer…

in Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer

Here in the South, springtime is quickly fleeting with summer nipping at its heels. Before we know it, school is out and Father’s day is quickly approaching. Picnics become barbecues and barbecues become cookouts – so the question begs, “what do we serve?” Well, for beer and white wine drinkers, the options are endless: pale ales, shandys, lambics, seasonal – Pinot Grigios, Gascony blends, Sauvignons and,… read more


Ben Barker

Get to know the Chef
What are your top 5 kitchen tools?
Nenox Japanese chef’s knife, wooden spoon, microplane zester, Chinese skimmer, Peltex fish spatula.
What is your favorite culinary destination?
San Francisco.
What smell evokes a wonderful memory?
Lemon poundcake; it reminds me of cooking with my grandmother.
What do you have that is interesting in your refrigerator?
Confit turkey necks.
When did you… read more

Cow, Goat & Sheep’s Milks… but what about di Bufala?

by Matt Hart in Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer, Cheese

Caseificio Quattro Portoni (Four Gates) is a dairy farm located in Cologno al Serio (in the province of Bergamo), Italy. They specialize in fifteen different cheeses made from milk of the domesticated Mediterranean Water Buffalo. Buffalo milk is not only higher in fat, protein and minerals than cows’ milk (making it an ideal candidate for cheese), but the buffalo requires far less land to graze upon to produce… read more

An Homage to Mothers

by Elizabeth Cooper in Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer, Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer, Cheese, Wine & Beer

This is the time of year we celebrate our mothers and reflect on the wondrous responsibility and gratification of being a mother. I grew up the youngest of five children with only my mother as a parent so, needless to say, she had her hands full! I attribute many of my character traits to my mother: My passions for friends, food, wine and family (not necessarily in that order); my work ethic, my gratitude and ability to see… read more