Recommended diversions

A Tall One

Earlier this month North Carolina won five medals at the 2006 Great American Beer Festival Competition —

gold to Ham’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Greenville for its Sunfest Lager, the Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill for its India Pale Ale, and the Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem for its Baltic Porter; silver to Natty Greene’s Brewing Company in the English-Style Brown Ale beer-style category for its Old Town Brown; and bronze to The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery for its Milk Stout. Now I can’t attest to having tried each of these award-winners, but the Carolina Brewery earned my favor while I attended UNC-Chapel Hill and the Duck-Rabbit Stout you’ve got to love if for no other reason than it’s ambiguous logo. This turn toward colder weather calls for a good thick beer, but if you’re too girly to drink something bitter and dark appease the taste buds with a raspberry lambic mixed in a 1-to-2 ratio with a double-chocolate stout (or to your own individual taste). At the Flying Saucer in Raleigh they call it a Lava Lamp.

Beck, The Information

The genius returns with this sonic blend of Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die with a touch of Tom Waits-like innovation, and a slew of terrific beats. Always a songwriter, spellcaster, dreamweaver musician, Beck doesn’t disappoint. If anything he’s truly come into his prime with an album that incorporates the fun of Odelay with the beauty of Sea Change. It’s hard to recommend any individual songs, as the whole album shines. And to boot, Beck lets you design your own CD cover with a four panel graph-paper grid and a book of artist-designed stickers.


I’ve always been a fan of the cranberry, preferring its chunky sauce to the can-shaped jelly form at Thanksgiving. As of late, I’ve found the small berry to be an excellent ingredient for all things munchable — trail mix, cookies — or simply by the handful. Annie’s Naturally Bakery in Sylva makes a mighty fine cranberry and walnut scone, and the other night I paired some cranberries and pecan pieces with store bought sugar cookie dough for a heartier treat. While like most fruit and berries, cranberries may be a little sugary; but I figure they’re definitely healthier than most other snack foods.

The North Carolina Arboretum

The arboretum, located off of N.C. 25 near Asheville, recently opened a new bonsai exhibit worth checking out both for its collection and exhibit design. The exhibit is outside and so now, as the weather cools, the miniature trees are beginning to change color and loose their leaves. It’s a fantastic, tiny world often reflective of our local landscape as specimens have been modeled after such locations as Roan Mountain. On one of these last few warm days we have left, make an afternoon of it, touring the grounds and then heading out on one of the arboretum’s many trails.

— By Sarah Kucharski

Reading Room

  • A strange mix of books crosses my desk
    A strange mix of books crosses my desk The first weeks of 2018 have seen some offbeat books shamble across my desk and into my fingers. First up is John Buchan’s Mr. Standfast, also known as Mr. Steadfast. Buchan, a Scottish novelist and politician who served as Governor General of Canada from 1935…
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