Recipe with Refugees launches Thursday with an Iraqi cooking class led by Donia Khalas, a wife and mother of two who fled Baghdad less than two years ago. The class is hosted by Church World Service, a nonprofit aiding immigrants and refugees, and Durham Spirits Co., a food and beverage company that regularly hosts cooking classes.
Khalas will make biryani (a traditional Iraqi dish with chicken and rice), fattoush salad, mahalbiya milk pudding and Iraqi tea. The cost is $40, with proceeds going to Khalas to pay for the space and materials and the rest as a donation to Church World Service. The entire fee is tax-deductible.
“I love cooking. I’m always cooking for my family, for my friends and if anybody has any celebration, I’m cooking for them,” says Khalas, who used to host weekly garden parties in Baghdad.
She says she finds much of what she needs, like authentic cardamom and other spices, at local Indian and Arabic stores and markets. While she traditionally cooks Iraqi meals for her family, Khalas enjoys exploring American food like homemade burgers. When she does dine out with her family, she opts for Chinese food and then re-creates dishes such as shrimp and pineapple at home.
She chose to make biryani for the class, she says, because she can quickly teach people how to prepare it in the two hours allotted.
Recipe With Refugees began at a Church World Service office in Pennsylvania. Durham intern Becca Troxler decided to start the event here. CWS hopes to make it a monthly event, with other Iraqi and Burmese refugees participating as chef-teachers.
“There are many refugees in Durham that have a lot to offer in terms of their culture and teaching us about what they’ve been through and what they’ve learned. I thought it’d be a great way [for the community] to meet really neat refugees and hear stories that they’d otherwise only read in a book. And they’d get to make ethnic recipes directly from a cook and not just from a recipe online."
Khalas says she hopes to open a restaurant, so she immediately accepted the offer to host the first class.
“Donia has great skills, she’s great with people, and I think this will give her only more confidence in teaching people and learn how the food industry works a little bit,” Troxler says.
The class runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Durham Spirits Company’s kitchen facility at 311 E. Trinity Ave. To sign up for Thursday’s class, visit cwsrdu.org/rwr. For more information contact Becca at 919-680-4310 or at email@example.com.
Jim Anile, chef and owner of Durham's Revolution, has a new venture planned for the former space of Cafe Zen (410 Blackwell St., Durham) at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham. L'Uva, an Italian restaurant and wine bar, is set to open in July, after Independence Day. "I don't want to be there before July 4," he explains, alluding to American Tobacco's holiday baseball crowds. "I don't want to get off on those sort of feet."
Anile says the restaurant will feature "simple, straightforward Italian food, all handmade." Weekly menu changes that incorporate fresh, local options will be announced regularly on L'Uva's website.
The restaurant will feature outdoor seating. Inside, expect an environment and menu slightly more casual than that of Revolution (but much more elegant than the stadium next door).
"If someone wants to hold an event in the restaurant, we'll rent the restaurant out," says Wilma Dillard, who ran her family's business until it closed last month due to an uncertain economy.
As for the new use of the former dining space, Dillard explains, "The building is still ours and it felt wrong to put someone else in it. I don't know how it will go, but I have nothing to lose by trying."
Since the restaurant closed, Dillard has taken on a new role as the marketing director at Chick-Fil-A on Hillsborough Road in Durham. But she still has her family's recipes close at hand.
In addition to Dillard's much loved mustard-dressed barbecue—something of an anomaly in North Carolina—her restaurant will offer some of the sides for which is was known, including carrot soufflé. Barbecue will be available for events outside of the building, too. Contact Dillard at the restaurant (919-544-1587) to schedule off-site catering, or to pick up barbecue on the last two Saturdays in May. Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on May 21 and May 28, Dillard will open her doors to sell barbecue by the pound. "For anyone who calls, we'll have barbecue," she says. And with that, Dillard's is back, at least in moderation.
Twenty minutes after the restaurant was scheduled to close at 5:30 p.m., Kim Walker, a longtime customer who volunteered to help on the final day, called a winding line of customers’ to attention. “We don’t think we’re going to have enough food for everyone left in line,” she told the crowd. “But that’s just a testament that you’ve been a blessing to this business.”
For two days, Dillard’s loyal patrons flocked to the restaurant to pay dues to the Dillard family, and, of course, to snag one more plate of barbecue. Burnette Smith, a Durham resident who has frequented the restaurant since at least the mid-1960s, made three trips today, deterred the first two times by a line that curved around the front door, and determined on her final stop to stand however long it took to get one more taste of barbecue, ribs, and carrot soufflé. “This is my last chance,” she said before waiting for nearly an hour.
Standing a few steps ahead, Geoff Bell echoed Smith’s sentiment. “This is the last supper and I hate that it’s the last supper. I don’t want it to be the last supper,” he said.
Julie Miller, who moved to Durham five years ago from Rock Hill, South Carolina, said she stood in hopes to stockpile some of the remaining meat to stretch out for a few more days. Among the Triangle’s many eastern-style barbecue stands, she favored Dillard’s South Carolina mustard-based sauce. “This is devastating to me,” she said of the restaurant’s impending close. “I’m getting 10-pounds.” But in that, Miller was unsuccessful.
Barbecue was the first thing to go today. According to Walker, the restaurant sold over 100 pounds in the last two days. But customers were happy to get whatever they could. And once up to the line, they reported the remaining foods to folks behind them.
“Hey, there’s carrot soufflé,” Smith accounted, smiling. “I see one hush puppy.”
Further back in line, customers swapped stories of Dillard’s past and penned their name in a guest book nearly 30 pages deep.
Seated in a corner near the restaurant’s entrance was Geneva Dillard, whose husband, Samuel Dillard, started the family business. She received customers much like a widow at a wake. Miller stopped to introduce her two small children, and lifelong friends swooped in to hold hands and offer both condolences and congratulations. The restaurant, though closing due to an uncertain economy, was going out on top.
“I’m proud to know that we meant so much to the community. I’ve felt blessed,” Dillard said, eyeing the restaurant’s outpouring of support. “But if I’d known this would have happened, I would have cooked more food.”
For the Dillard family, the business isn’t really over yet. On March 26, the Hayti Heritage Center will award the restaurant with its Hayti Legacy award. And the Dillards promise to continue to sell their much-loved BBQ sauce at area stores.
Motorco books a band for month-long residencies to set the stage for its brunch. The Jackets just wrapped up their stint; this Sunday welcomes The Mason’s Apron, a new bluegrass band comprised of local musicians from Hammer No More The Fingers, Mandolin Orange and Big Fat Gap. The music usually starts at 2 p.m.
Get there early to snag a Bloody Mary or a Habanero Mojito — both hefty drinks served with crispy bacon at around $5 — and check out the bar’s nosh specials. Homemade gumbo has been a past feature, cooked up by Chef Chris Holloway of Duke University’s Plate and Pitchfork.
Then slurp and slide over to the bright blue KoKyu BBQ truck parked outside. Chef/owner “Flip” has concocted an impressively gourmet menu inspired by Korean street food. And he’s dubbed the weekly event the “MotorKoKyu Brunch.” The duck fat tater tots are a must — a hot heap of decadent tots that would make Napoleon Dynamite swoon, with a fragrant dousing of fresh chopped rosemary for $3. (Great dipped into Sriracha chili sauce, available by request.) Other menu highlights include short rib and gorgonzola cheese quesadillas pressed crisp ($6), pork belly “takos” ($3) and a 12-hr smoked ancho chile-coffee-cocoa beef brisket slider topped with kimchi-esque pickles ($3). Vegetarians will find the colorful sweet potato and avocado takos ($4) a plus.
Sadly, Big Mouth Billy Basses—the plastic, singing fish that were popular 10 years ago and thrust back into the light of day on the walls at Durham's Fish Shack (2512 University Drive)—will soon return to their dusty spots in local attics.
According to Dan Ferguson, who owns the Fish Shack and its neighbor, the Original Q Shack, the fried-fish eatery officially closed its doors last Sunday due to low sales. "I really loved the concept and thought it would work," Ferguson says of his business.
But after a mere nine months, the Fish Shack couldn't survive. "It was just like digging a ditch. It just couldn't recover," Ferguson says.
On a better note, Ferguson says that the Original Q Shack continues to prosper. When I spoke to him on the phone just moments ago, I could hear the bustle of customers in the background.
Only Burger, Durham's mobile burger eatery, has a new place to park and call home. Approximately three weeks ago, the food truck opened a brick and mortar location at Hope Valley Square shopping center (3710 Shannon Road, Suite 118, Durham, http://durhamcatering.com/onlyburger, 919-724-9377). At the new location, the menu is basically the same—$4.75 for single burgers and $7.25 for doubles—except that it has expanded to include beer (and seating). Only Burger will celebrate its grand opening at 11 a.m. today with half priced burgers.