Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bam! Try bamboo pickles

Some people can't see the forest for the trees. But Carla Faw Squires, like her mother and grandmother, looks upon a bamboo grove and sees pickles.
"People think they look like calamari," Squires says. She will offer samples at PickleFest of the bamboo pickle recipe her grandmother developed after World War II. "If you like crunchy dill pickles, you'll like these."
Squires drives from Raleigh to her family's home place in Wilkes County to harvest bamboo each spring. The community gained the curious crop after a woman who served as a nurse during the building of the Panama Canal returned home with a few carefully wrapped plants. With a booming supply and a Victory Garden mindset, the women of Wilkes County were determined to use it to feed their families.
Squires' grandparents, who owned a small country store before her grandfather became chief of police, eventually moved to Lenoir but returned to North Wilkesboro in the 1970s. They planted their own bamboo grove, starting with just seven stalks. Pickling soon resumed, with young Carla at her grandmother's side.
"I was the only grandchild interested at the time," says Squires, who left a technology finance career in 2007 to start the Bamboo Ladies. Bamboo pickles first were processed in Asheville and then at The Cookery in Durham. She now produces about 500 jars annually at a processing center in Hillsborough. They can be found locally at NOFO @ the Pig and Southern Season.
Cooking Light magazine named her pickled bamboo among the winners of its 2010 Taste Test Awards: "Charming, odd, and delicious, they're a perfect gift for the adventurous foodie."
The product is entirely handmade, beginning with cutting and shucking young shoots and carefully slicing the bamboo to keep its concentric circles together. "It's more difficult that you might think," says Squires, noting that a mandoline or other rapid slicer pops the bamboo into unmanageable rings. "The whole process is hard work, but it's worth it to keep my family legacy intact."

What's the big dill, Durham?

your-big-pickle.jpg
Ben Woodward remembers the childhood delight of Sour Patch Kids candies. As the sugar crystals melted and his tongue re-enacted the precise sweet-salty-sour-bitter chart that made little sense on the blackboard, he blinked briny tears of joy.
Today, the co-owner of Haw River Farmhouse Ales in Saxapahaw is finishing a brew for beer lovers who crave a similar pucker. His Pickled Pepper Sour Beer will be among the featured pours at Saturday's PickleFest in Durham.
"It's an acquired taste for some, but craft beer drinkers are more exploratory today than they were 10 years ago," Woodward says. "It's no different than offering someone a shrub. When they realize it's a vinegar soda, they think you're crazy."
Until they try it. In their tasting room, Woodward has observed a three-step reaction among those trying sour beers or shrubs, also called drinking vinegars. The first sip is shock and surprise; the second leads to curiosity and wonder. "By the third sip," he says, "they accept that it really is as delicious as they think it is."
Woodward explains that classic sour beer results from slow-acting bacteria luxuriating in the barrel as long as a year. His Pickled Pepper is a quicker hybrid called kettle souring. Wild yeast is added to the mixture to hasten fermentation of sugars, delivering a tangy brew in about three months.
"They're both delicious, but it's like refrigerator pickles versus fermented ones," he concedes. "It's not as complex, but not everyone likes those deep flavors."
If you're looking for a gateway beverage that's alcohol-free but refreshingly crisp, Woodward suggests his golden beet shrub made with white balsamic vinegar.
"We were going to do a traditional red beet and dark balsamic shrub, but when I saw those golden beets at the farmer's market I couldn't resist them," he says. "It will be flavored with black peppercorn and a couple of pickling spices."
While Haw River finishes its shrubs in casks and pours them from a tap, Woodward says many shrubs are easy to make at home. Books like Michael Dietsch's 2014 sensation, Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, offer basic instruction as well as tips on how to incorporate seasonal botanicals.
"You can make them at home in just a couple of days and finish them with a bit of soda water," Woodward says. "Unlike commercial sodas, you can make these as sweet or sour as you like, and with what whatever fruit or vegetable you like. Really, the possibilities are endless."
This post first appeared in Indy Week.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Innovative concept puts a local spin on the food court at Southpoint

Don't be surprised to encounter some of your favorite food trucks on your next visit to The Streets of Southpoint. No, not in the parking lot as part of a food truck rodeo—in the food court.
The Durham shopping center, one of 120 properties owned by a leading national mall operator, is testing a food court concept that includes local food truck owners cooking with locally sourced food.
There is no set goal for working local businesses in the mix, says Lynn Gray, director of field marketing for the eastern region of General Growth Properties Inc. The project will not eliminate familiar chains or the ubiquitous eateries that wave come-on samples of sesame chicken, but it should provide some options for local foodies getting their shopping fix.
To date, two Durham-based food trucks are opening counter-service shops at the Southpoint food court. Porchetta, renowned for its variations on slow-roasted Italian pork sandwiches, opened June 10. American Meltdown, which has built an award-winning reputation for its creative grilled cheese sandwiches, is scheduled to follow in September. Additional Triangle-based providers may be added as current leases expire.
Nick Crosson and business partner Matthew Hayden started Porchetta ("por-KET-a") in June 2012. They were discussing opening a traditional brick-and-mortar location in the Apex-Pittsboro area last fall when General Growth approached them about taking an available space at the mall.
"They said they wanted to begin the process of rebranding and being more local," says Crosson, who will work the shop while Hayden operates the truck. "They felt food trucks would be a good fit because of the style and service and our connections with the community.
"Everything they said made sense. We were excited and, quite frankly, honored, that they contacted us," Crosson says. "They were very helpful in making sure the deal was good for everyone."
The expanded kitchen space—from about 180 square feet on the truck to 738 square feet at the food court has allowed Porchetta to add new equipment and menu items. Thanks to a new rotisserie, they now serve hot Italian-style sliced beef in hoagie rolls from Neomonde topped with zesty giardiniera, a mix of pickled vegetables.
Slightly higher prices than you'll find on the food truck—a sandwich, side and a drink costs about $10—are prompted by increased overhead, but Crosson says he is eating some of the costs to stay competitive with his neighbors.
click to enlargePorchetta, specializing in pork - sandwiches, is joining the growing trend - of local food trucks opening brick-andmortar - locations. - PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE
  • Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
  • Porchetta, specializing in pork sandwiches, is joining the growing trend of local food trucks opening brick-and-mortar locations.
"People aren't used to seeing this kind of service in a food court," he says. "Business has been fantastic. Every day, someone tells me they haven't eaten in a mall food court in 10 years, but they came for us."
Such diners, who place a premium on shopping and eating local, may attract a new demographic for Southpoint. Still, American Meltdown's Inserra appreciates that the mall is taking a risk in choosing to work with small, local shops than familiar corporate entities.
"We don't have a team of lawyers like the big companies," says Inserra, who launched the business in March 2012 with his wife, Alycia. "It took more time than we expected, especially getting a bank loan, but we feel that they really want us there. They said they were tired of the same old food court. They want a more dynamic food environment in their malls, and they felt we'd be a good fit. We are glad to be part of it."
Inserra says American Meltdown will offer popular items from its food truck, including sandwiches that have earned national honors at the Grilled Cheese Invitational. They'll have an expanded menu of sides and will introduce a changing selection of homemade ice creams.
"It's going to be great to have a neighbor like Nick," Inserra says. "We've shared information as food truck owners, and now we'll share again. It's what helps you grow as business owners."
Crosson and Inserra both say their food truck operations will continue regardless of whatever success they have at Southpoint.
"Our truck is finally paid off and generating cash," Inserra says. "I've got a restaurant to pay for now, so we're going to keep it rolling as long as we can."
This post first appeared in Indy Week.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Take it Inside: Kamado Grille restaurant amps up the backyard grill experience in North Raleigh

First things first. It's "Ka-mah-do," as in the egg-shaped, Japanese-style ceramic grill, not "ka-moe-do," as in komodo, the largest living species of lizard.
In the age of Game of Thrones with dragon eggs surviving fire, that's an important distinction.



And while Kamado Joe Grills are designed for outdoor use, the new Kamado Grille restaurant in North Raleigh has a dozen of the cherry red grills inside the kitchen, where their intoxicating smoke is captured by a massive exhaust and fire-suppression system designed by CaptiveAire.
You read that right. Led by Eric Gephart, formerly of The Chef's Academy in Morrisville, they are burning hardwood charcoal inside the restaurant, practically around the clock. The entire system, which soon will include temperature settings for individual grills, can be monitored by staff and tweaked off-site through a phone app.
The fast-paced kitchen action can be viewed by diners from live-feed cameras that relay images of line cooks grilling meats, fish and vegetables to big screens in the sunny dining room. Be patient and you might get to see someone "burp" the heavy lid to minimize the potential for flying sparks. That quick jiggle is crucial, considering they can roar to 1,100 degrees. Most menu items cook at a relatively moderate 500 to 700 degrees, while slow smoking is dialed back to around 250 degrees.
Built on the same footprint of the long abandoned Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, the huge open space—complemented by ample outdoor seating and a grass bocce court—is designed to resemble a HOA-friendly great outdoors, complete with stone garden walls, burbling water features and trees that stretch toward skylights.
Co-owner Tom Allen is the clever guy who gazed admiringly at the Kamado Grill on his Wakefield deck and conjured this clearly franchise-able concept (opening soon in Greenville, South Carolina, Wilmington and Charlotte, with more to come). Allen appreciated the way the ceramic grill, similar to a Big Green Egg, quickly generates and holds heat, allowing foods to sear quickly and retain moisture. A former executive with Outback Steakhouse, he emailed Kamado Joe with his brainstorm, getting an enthusiastic call from the owner just 45 minutes later.
A change in color indicates a temperature change. Hotter grills turn a darker red. - PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER
A change in color indicates a temperature change. Hotter grills turn a darker red.
Indy Week photo by Alex Boerner.


Allen believes Kamado Grille makes one of the best burgers in town, and that claim may leave you with your jaw hanging open. Or it might be just the after-effect of the stacked mouthful ($11) topped with a patty-covering round of custom-cured pancetta, grilled onion, pepper jack cheese and "secret sauce." You won't miss the absence of fries with creative sides like red quinoa salad with butterbeans. Other sandwich options a include a Reuben ($11) with corned beef slow-cooked overnight, pulled pork ($9.50) sourced from Heritage Farm near Goldsboro, and a smoke-free lobster roll ($14). If the tender buns taste familiar it's because they're made by Cary's La Farm bakery.
Note that La Farm owner Lionel Vatinet's irresistible white chocolate baguette is used in a bread pudding ($6) drizzled with "bourbon dream sauce." That's my idea of dreamy, but maybe not yours. See if you can resist the chocolate and seasonal fruit cobblers ($6) baked in personal cast iron pans or a selection of ice cream, sorbet and gelato ($3.50).
But we digress. Before dessert, consider an entree (maybe juniper-brined pork prime rib for $16.50 or maple-miso glazed Scottish salmon at $17) or a few appetizers (are you a sucker for $12 lamb lollipops? how about $10 oysters Kamadofeller with andouille, spinach and smoked gouda?). Grilled flatbread options include the $13 ocean BLAST featuring bacon, lettuce, avocado, shrimp and tomato.
If you're stumped, you can ask a friendly server for advice, but the iPad ordering system allows you to bypass such interruptions. If you want to silently signal that the only ongoing service you want is beverage refills or plate clearing, ask for a lapel pin.
On the other hand, if you crave interaction, know that Kamado Grille offers free classes (with tastings) on Saturday mornings to help fans learn the fine points of ceramic grill cooking. This includes a visit to the "retail center" where they can buy accessories and grills ranging in price from the $499 portable Joe Jr. to the $1,499 party-sized Big Joe.
Or, for a more modest investment, and a welcome break, let them do the cooking for you.
This post first appeared in Indy Week.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Go Coastal: Author Paul Greenberg wants you to know more about the seafood you eat

For tickets and more information: about Farm to Fork weekend events, visit www.farmtoforknc.com.
 

There is a big difference between food found locally and true local food, especially when it comes to fish.


Author and sustainable fisheries advocate Paul Greenberg
will speak Friday and Saturday at Farm to Fork
While it may seem obvious that seafood comes from rivers, streams and oceans, it's not always so simple when consumers are accustomed to seeing it expertly trimmed and artfully displayed in grocery stores. Consider the ruby red salmon, often arranged center stage on a shimmering bed of ice. It looks as if it just leaped from a pristine river, mere inches from the swiping paws of a picture-perfect bear.
But unless it's labeled "wild caught," those posers actually were scooped from a massive breeding tank, some of them no closer to Alaska than Raleigh.

And that bag of bargain shrimp in the freezer case? Probably not from the Carolina coast or anywhere close. Check the fine print and you'll likely find it tagged from Thailand or one of many Southeast Asian operations with dubious environmental records. Mass industrialization has made common the practice of plumping meager shrimp with tripolyphosphate, a chemical that boosts portability but makes it weep milky water and become gummy when cooked.

Remember that the next time you crave "popcorn" shrimp, tiny versions of these same mass-produced creatures, which are made snackably crisp thanks only to deep-fried crust.

Paul Greenberg wants more consumers to learn not only how to recognize locally caught fish, but why purchasing it is so important. Author of American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood, which will be re-issued Tuesday in paperback, Greenberg says choosing fish from local waters not only delivers health and environmental benefits but also supports the fishermen who strive to ensure the long term sustainability of fisheries.

"People typically have thought of local food as land food. Know your farmer, know your food," says Greenberg, a featured speaker Friday and Saturday at the upcoming three-day Farm to Fork event, which celebrates local growers, providers and chefs. "But that circle of concern needs to be widened to include the coast and working waterfronts and fishermen."

Greenberg acknowledges that media scrutiny rightly fell on some fishermen in the 1980s and '90s because of overfishing at-risk species. Today, buying from fishmongers with relationships to fishermen who respect regulations that have improved conditions in the U.S.—and avoiding seafood grown in places that harm the environment by destroying mangrove forests and using bycatch for feed—is good for the whole world, he says.

"Do we want to outsource our fish, buying from countries that don't have good regulations or good environmental stewardship around aquaculture? Or do we want to pay a little bit more to responsible fishmongers by doing something that is good for the local economy and good for the overall environment we're trying to protect?" he says. "To me, the answer is clear that we need to support the work of local fishermen."

Greenberg credits the Triangle for being more savvy about sustainable seafood than much of the nation, thanks in large part to the Walking Fish CSF (community supported fishery), which began in 2009 at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment before taking its current structure in 2011. Its success led to other thriving businesses, notably Raleigh-based Locals Seafood.

"This movement was kind of born here," he says, stating that Walking Fish may have been the first contemporary venture in the nation to unite coastal fishermen to bring fresh catch to interested inland consumers who subscribe to weekly deliveries.

"Of course, once upon a time, we didn't have to call it CSF. It was just fishermen going out fishing and then you bought the fish," Greenberg says. "But because the commodity chain has gotten so long, we've had to create these sorts of things that seem radical in today's marketplace. The more local fisheries and fishermen who are supported, the better off we'll all be."


 

Friday, June 5, 6:30–9 p.m.: Bestselling author and sustainable fisheries advocate Paul Greenberg is guest of honor at a dinner prepared by five North Carolina chefs: Vivian Howard of Chef and the Farmer, Kinston; Chris Coleman of The Asbury, Charlotte; Amy Tornquist of Watts Grocery and Hummingbird Bakery, Durham; Jay Pierce of Rocksalt, Charlotte; and David Bauer of Farm & Sparrow, Asheville. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson St., Durham

Saturday, June 6, 5–8:30 p.m.: A dinner prepared by chefs Ricky Moore of Saltbox Seafood Joint, Durham, and James Clark of The Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill. Then Greenberg speaks about the state of the U.S. fishing industry followed by a panel discussion featuring North Carolina industry experts. The Rickhouse, 609 Foster St., Durham

Sunday, June 7, 4–7 p.m.: Farm to Fork Picnic pairs more than 30 chefs and 30 farmers for food tastings complemented by craft brewers, wine distributors and coffee producers. WC Breeze Family Farm, Hurdle Mills

This article appeared in Indy Week with the headline "Go coastal."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking marks milestone


Carolina Cornucopia, a Conference on Foodways of the Tar Heel State, will be held May 29-30 at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill. The conference is free (there is an optional $40 dinner event) but registration is required . For details, visit http://ncfoodways.web.unc.edu/.



At right, 1985 jacket design of Bill Neal’s
Southern Cooking.  Moreton Neal says her
ex-husband used he electric stove below
which still works in the house now occupied by
their son, Matt Neal  of Neal’s Deli in Carrboro.
“I tell people, when they are interested in all
these fancy stoves and appliances, that Bill tested
every recipe for all of his books on a cheap
Sears electric stove,” she says.  “The point is,
it’s not the appliance; it’s the cook.”
 
 
If not for an argument, one of the most influential books on Southern regional cooking might never have been written."That book was formulated in his head and he wanted to leave to write it," says Gene Hamer, owner of Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill. "We were so busy with the restaurant. Bill was trying to carve out time to write when we went our separate ways."

Hamer is referring to Bill Neal, the self-taught chef who opened Chapel Hill's La Residence in 1976 with his then-wife Moreton Neal. The book, started a year after Hamer and Neal opened Crook's in 1982, was to become the culinary classic Bill Neal's Southern Cooking.

Hamer recalls that Neal wanted to move to New York for a few months, a notion Hamer deemed unreasonable as he had a new business to manage. Assuming they'd never work together again, Hamer bought out Neal's share of Crook's.

Neal actually returned to Crook's the following year, helping to launch a trajectory that led to the James Beard Foundation presenting its American Classic Award to the landmark in 2011.

"Bill needed a place to show off the book, and I needed his face," Hamer recalls. "The fact is, for the business to work, we needed each other. We renewed the bond of our friendship. I still miss him every day."

When the book was published in 1985 by the University of North Carolina Press, Craig Claiborne, influential food editor at The New York Times, wrote a lengthy article. Claiborne credited Neal for bringing deserved attention to Southern foodways, much in the same way that chef Alice Waters and Chez Panisse steered culinary interest toward newly minted "California cuisine."

Which was exactly what Neal wanted to hear.

"He resented that California was getting all the attention," recalls Moreton Neal, who introduced Neal to sophisticated Southern food in her native Mississippi. “Bill had an uncanny knack for getting ahead of a trend. He felt that if people would just go back to before World War II, before everything was processed and corn syrup and margarine got popular, they’d see that the South had an equally rich food heritage.”

Thirty years after its publication, Bill Neal's Southern Cooking will be the topic of a May 30 plenary session of the Carolina Cornucopia conference at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill. The influential book defied the stereotypical beliefs about Southern food; largely, that all proteins are fried and all vegetables greased with fatback.

Shrimp and Grits at Crook's Corner
(photo courtesy @sally_cooks)
A classic example of Neal's enduring legacy is his recipe for Shrimp and Grits, variations of which have become ubiquitous at Southern restaurants. It remains on the Crook’s menu, where it continues to satisfy locals and dazzle diners who travel there for the express experience.

Fans also make pilgrimages to Neal's Deli in Carrboro, where they seek out Bill and Moreton Neal's son, owner Matt Neal. He recalls a chef from Cambridge, Massachusetts, stopping to visit and talk about how Southern Cooking was a touchstone in his own career.

"I didn't think that much about it, because it happens a lot," Matt Neal says. "But earlier this month I saw that Barry Maiden was named Best Chef Northeast by the James Beard Foundation. It kind of blew my mind. It's gratifying to my family that people are keeping this book alive."


Kim Severson
Bill Neal went on to write two more cookbooks and edited Through the Garden Gate, a compilation of columns by garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence, before his death in 1991 at age 41. Food writer Kim Severson of The New York Times says Southern Cooking remains his most important work.

“The book and Mr. Neal himself built the frame on which this latest Southern food revolution was built,” observes Severson, an ardent advocate of Southern fare who lives in Atlanta. “That book codified an elevation of Southern cooking that was quite true to the food.”

Chef Ben Barker considered the book so essential that it was required reading for new kitchen staff at Durham's now-closed Magnolia Grill.

"We felt that, if you were a native, it was a great way to re-visit the food of your region, or examine regional variations of classic dishes," Barker says. "And if you weren't a native, it is a historically accurate, well-written introduction to the larder and the cuisine. We often used the recipes as jumping off points for inspiration, or foundation, for dishes at the Grill."

Nathalie Dupree is a Charleston-based cookbook writer whose lifetime achievements led to her being inducted this month into the James Beard Foundation Who's Who of Food & Beverage. She says Southern Cooking broke new ground in distinguishing regional cuisines within the South and defining unique characteristics with roots in diverse populations, geography, agricultural potential and economics.

Nathalie Dupree
"It was an enormous breakthrough for our understanding of Southern food," Dupree says. "I think it is even more important today, in a sense, as so many of us were slow to realize the vast implications."

Moreton Neal, who wrote the 2004 cookbook/memoir Remembering Bill Neal: Favorite Recipes From a Life in Cooking, says he was thoroughly immersed in testing recipes and writing Southern Cooking. The book has since been revised and expanded by UNC Press.

“Before then, the best Southern recipes came from those little Junior League and church cookbooks, and they had very little detail,” Neal says. “I remember reading one of his recipes and thinking that it just went on and on. I didn’t think people would like it. But I was completely wrong. It turned out that it was quite an achievement.”

This first appeared in Indy Week.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Nello's teams with Whitted Bowers Farm and Whole Foods to produce first certified biodynamic tomato sauce in U.S.

From left to right: Rob Bowers, Byrne Huddleston,
Cheri Whitted Bowers and Neal McTighe walk through
the Whitted Bowers certified organic and biodynamic
farm in Cedar Grove. The Whitted Bowers Farm
will produce tomatoes for Nello's Sauce.
(Indy Week photos by Alex Boerner)
The imminent arrival of local tomatoes has long served as a sad reminder of the limits of Neal McTighe's entrepreneurial dreams.
The maker of Nello's Sauce, a line of premium tomato sauces produced and bottled just north of Raleigh, sources his tomatoes from California, where they grow abundantly year round. The volume he needs—currently about 20,000 pounds each month—and North Carolina's relatively short growing season made his goal of using locally grown fruit unrealistic.

Until now. Just weeks after announcing that Whole Foods was expanding regional distribution of Nello's Sauce to 140 stores from Texas to New Jersey—doubling the amount of tomatoes he processes each month—McTighe reveals the chain awarded him a loan to introduce a new product with specific local ingredients.

"It is truly groundbreaking," McTighe says. "It's the first in their business's history to support biodynamic agriculture. The real kicker is that this will be the first biodynamic, U.S.-grown, U.S.-made, tomato sauce ever. And we're doing it right here in North Carolina." Other sauces labeled organic and biodynamic contain non-U.S.-grown ingredients or were produced outside of America, most likely in Italy, McTighe says.

Nello's Biodynamic Marina will debut this summer with both USDA Organic and Demeter Biodynamic certifications. The limited edition sauce, labeled Summer 2015 Harvest, will be sold exclusively at Whole Foods. It will be made from the yield of 6,000 heirloom tomato plants (plus basil and garlic) grown for the express purpose at Whitted Bowers Farm in Cedar Grove. Sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and tomato paste have been sourced from other certified organic providers.

"I am willing to claim this will be the cleanest jarred tomato sauce ever produced in America," says McTighe, referencing the rigorous seed-to-shelf standards with which Nello's has to comply.

In fact, the standards are so tough that McTighe delayed announcing the new sauce several times while awaiting final approval from Demeter USA, the nonprofit American chapter of Demeter International, the world's only certifier of biodynamic farms and products.

Nello's Sauce founder Neal McTighe holds a
Bradywine tomato from Whitted Bowers Farm
in Cedar Grove. Whitted Bowers plans to produce
15,000 pounds of Bellstar heirloom tomatoes
to be used in the marinara sauces
of Raleigh-based company Nello's Sauce.
Established in 2005, the 52-acre Whitted Bowers Farm has been certified by Demeter since 2009. Co-owner Rob Bowers explains that the term biodynamic includes a range of protocols that improve the quality of farm land with fertilizer-free herbal and compost-based remedies. This not only protects soil from being drained of nutrients during the growing process but also discourages development of plant diseases that can destroy crops and devastate animal health. Given agreeable weather, he says the result of such mindful farming is "more and better output."

The stars also play a significant role at the farm, just as they did in generations past, when growers consulted the constellations for bountiful harvests. "It's the axis of biodynamic farming that raises the most eyebrows," Bowers concedes, "but paying attention to the alignment of the moon and close planets works.

"My grandmother once told me, 'Everyone knows you're not supposed to plant potatoes when the moon is in Pisces,'" recalls Bowers, who provides produce to numerous fine-dining restaurants and sells at the Carrboro Farmers Market. "There is a lot of folk wisdom, but it's evolved to the point that we know by the hour what to do. I don't know if it's causal, but there is a construct that works."

The farm's website prominently features the current phase of the moon to assist others who aspire to farm this way.

Since growing produce this way is expensive, the 18-ounce jars of Nello's Biodynamic Sauce will sell for either $7.99 or $8.99, depending on final production costs. The 14-ounce and 25-ounce jars of the current line sell for about $4.99 and $7.99, respectively.

Given the relatively small production, McTighe cautions that Nello's Biodynamic Marinara may sell out quickly.

"We didn't want to go too big this year because we're all a little nervous about introducing an entirely new product to the market," he says. "There is a lot riding on this, but we hope to grow quickly in future years."

This first appeared in Indy Week.