Welcome to Friday Night Bites, your weekly roundup of local food and drink news and events. Have a tip for us? Email food@indyweek.com. 

PSA: Big Spoon Roasters’s Hot Peanut is Back

Durham’s Big Spoon Roasters is known for its line of small batch, roasted nut butters, but the one that causes the most fervor is the seasonal Hot Peanut, a peanut butter that gets its smoky-sweet heat from a blend of guajillo, ancho, and habanero peppers. Besides literally spicing up breakfast, the hot peanut butter plays nice in sweet and savory recipes, too.

“We normally hear from folks when we discontinue a product, but that eventually dies down after a little while. But for Hot Peanut we’ve received emails and calls almost every week from the time it went on hiatus to the week before its return,” Mackenzie Props, Big Spoon Roaster’s marketing and communications manager says. 

Triangle Artisans Nearly Sweep N.C. Specialty Foods Association Competition Triangle food companies took home top honors in six out of eight categories at the N.C. Specialty Foods Association’s 2018 product competition. Eighty-two entries from around the state were blind tasted and judged on taste, appearance, aroma, texture, and aftertaste. First-place winners include Mike D’s BBQ, placing for both its spicy BBQ sauce and all-purpose dry rub, Yo Momma’s Style’s Blackberry Cinnz Jam, SeaBrooks Family Naturals’ green apple cinnamon Summer Water, Carolina Kettle’s Sir Walter Cream Cheese & Chives Kettle Chips, and Chapel Hill Toffee’s namesake toffee. 

Art of Cool Serves Up Foodie Perks

To match its weekend of music and culture programming, Durham’s Art of Cool Festivalis offering foodie perks for festival goers. Show your wristband to get free chips with your order at Toast, 5 percent off your Bagel Bar order, a free beer tasting at Beer Durham, 10 percent off at Pour Taproom, and a free snack at Jack Tar or Pizzeria Toro (with purchase of cocktail at both).  For a full list of perks, including brunch and happy hour specials, click here


Celebrate Whole Hog Barbecue at the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival

Sample top-notch barbecue at the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship, taking place on Saturday, September 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. during the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival in downtown Raleigh. Proceeds from wristband sales will benefit Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and the IBMA Bluegrass Trust Fund, a non-profit organization that provides assistance to bluegrass professionals experiencing financial emergencies. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 the day of the championship. 

Sip Wicked Weed Brewing’s Best at County Fare’s Wicked Weed Beer Festival

The Wicked Weed Beer Festival, an extravaganza comprising music, magicians, food trucks, and beer, is set to take place on September 30 at County Fare, Durham’s newest food truck venue. The event will showcase Asheville’s Wicked Weed Brewing, with beer tastings and dishes from each food truck specially crafted to pair with one of the brewery’s beers. A portion of the festival’s proceeds will benefit the Emily K Center, a non-profit committed to helping low-income students achieve success in school.

Feast on Field-to-Plate Dishes at Chefs on the Farm Fundraiser Dinner 

On October 7, Warren Estate, a rustic-farm-turned-events-venue, and Working Landscapes, a nonprofit rural development organization, will host its first ever Chefs on the Farm event, featuring dishes created by top Triangle and Warren County chefs in collaboration with Warren County farmers. All proceeds will directly benefit Working Landscapes’ farm-to-school programs, which have supplied 440,000 servings of locally-grown produce to school children in twenty North Carolina school districts, as well as educating kids about healthy, local eating. Purchase tickets here

Go on a Global Vegan Adventure at bu•ku

Early-bird tickets are on sale for a Global Vegan Dinner Adventure, taking place at bu•ku on October 17. The six-course menu reflects bu•ku’s flair for global street food and will include dishes such as Burmese shan tofu salad, made with turmeric-spiced chickpea tofu, Ethiopian Beluga lentil wat served with injera (a spongy flatbread), and Jamaican black bean cake with rum-fried plantains and jerk cashews. 


Jack Tar and The Colonel’s Daughter has all the trappings of a diner. You can get breakfast all-day, including the cult-favorite pancakes, scratch-made desserts are prominently displayed under glass cake domes, and there are the requisite salads and sandwiches (albeit with a twist, such as the chicken-fried turkey club). But what makes Jack Tar live up to its self-styled “modern diner” label, besides the space’s clean lines and spare décor, is that these classic dishes seem equally at home alongside an eclectic mix of less common fare such as fried smelts, a Puy lentil bowl, and Szechuan peppercorn hot chicken

It’d be easy to gloss over or even shy away from this last menu item, perhaps thinking “I don’t do spicy,” or that Nashville hot chicken’s incendiary heat and flop-sweat inducing spiciness doesn’t make for an enjoyable lunch. But you’d be missing one of Jack Tar’s sleeper hits and modern diner genre defining dishes. After a dunk in the fryer, the chicken is tossed in an infused oil that boasts just the right amount of heat, owing to the trademark lip numbing tingle of the Szechuan peppercorns, balanced with seasoning such as togarashi, smoked paprika, and a touch of brown sugar. If you’re feeling the heat, put it out with a bite of one of the accompanying Hawaiian rolls or temper the sting with the cool crunch of bread and butter pickle slices. And yes, those are both house-made. Any self-respecting modern diner wouldn’t have it any other way.