But as Besha Rodell makes clear this week, the Triangle has a tradition of great restaurants that goes far beyond Clyde Cooper's or Allen & Son. There's nothing like a place where perfect ingredients, sublime flavors and elegant design merge to take you out of this world and into another. And as we revitalize our downtowns, restaurants are a key ingredient in creating meeting places for the people who are starting to live there and destinations for those who don't. And they can show us the value of developing local agriculture that is healthier, tastier and better for both the economy and the environment.
Those are stories we try to tell in food columns every week: Local Tastes by Sidney Cruze, about area farmers, the first week of the month; Wine Beat, Arturo Ciompi's wine report, the second week; Eat Beat, a look at food politics by David Auerbach, the third week; and a restaurant feature the fourth week. And we have Cuisine Scene, a monthly selection from our restaurant listings, and Now Serving, about new restaurants and restaurant happenings. Our Dish issue comes out twice a year, and we've created the most comprehensive restaurant database in the Triangle on our Web site at www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Dining.
Our hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. Last year, Besha won second place for food news reporting from the Association of Food Journalists, and Arturo won third for food columns. About Arturo, the judges said: "The writing conveys the writer's personality with a light, engaging touch.... Authoritative yet accessible." High praise for a column about a subject that often comes off as distant and esoteric.
And Besha and Sidney won the 2005 Dan Wilkinson WRAL Conservation Communication Award sponsored by the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District for our last Dish issue on Oct. 12. Besha told the story of the Holeman family's farm in Person County in "Life of a Tomato, " and Sidney reported on Fred Miller and Hilltop Farms in "Wake farmers growing an organic industry."
The judges wrote: "Your writers spotlighting local and regional innovators like the Millers and Holemans bring public attention and support to the importance of local and regional farmers supporting local and regional consumers."
Our food rotation is a little wobbly right now. With Besha leaving, we're looking for a new restaurant writer. And Sidney has taken a few months off as she adjusts to having a baby in the house. But we expect to be at full strength in time to tell you about the spring crops, and how local chefs are using them to make this an even better place to live.