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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Top of the Hill beers, spirits take top honors

Posted by on Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Good timing: Three days before Top of the Hill’s TOPO Piedmont Gin debuts on Sunday, the company has announced its brewery and distillery won a total of four medals in beer and spirits competitions this week.

The Chapel Hill brewery won two platinum medals for its Rams Head IPA and Singleton Ale at the World Beer Championships in Chicago. The distillery’s vodka and Carolina whiskey earned silver medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Sixty-three countries and 1,407 spirits competed for honors.

TOPO beers are available only at the brewery. The spirits are available in ABC stores and bars in North Carolina. The gin will be available Sunday at Top of the Hill Restaurant.

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    Three days before its TOPO Piedmont Gin debuts on Sunday, Top of the Hill wins four medals in beer and spirits competitions this week.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

3Cups in Chapel Hill closing Feb. 2

Posted by on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 3:32 PM

3Cups, a popular purveyor of wine, beer coffee and tea, is closing on Saturday, Feb. 2, owner Lex Alexander announced today.

In a blog post on the eatery's website, Alexander said the "business model is no longer financially sustainable."

The business at 227 S. Elliott Road has been open for eight years.

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    3Cups in Chapel Hill closing

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Durham in the running for Southern Living's Best Food Destination

Posted by on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 9:19 AM

Durham, we’re at it again, making national headlines with our hard work and pride in local cuisine. Southern Living Magazine just named Durham one of the Tastiest Towns in the South in 2013. I’ll bet you a steaming Watts Grocery grits bowl, a glazed Monut and an Old Havana pork sandwich (pulled and pressed just right) that most of us saw this coming.

Sam Poley, longtime chef and now director of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, praised the city’s food scene in an official statement:

"Durham's food scene is on par with the best in the nation. Chefs here have integrity, appreciation for the ingredients, the sourcing, the producers, the preparations, and the customers. In Durham, food is a culture that rises above most barriers, and all of Durham's diverse inhabitants come together over great food all the time.”

Southern Living’s blurb noted the pioneering efforts of chef Shane Ingram of Foursquare, defying traditional ideas of fine dining, and the consciously crafted Counter Culture Coffee, home of America’s winningest barista and 2012 Southeast Regional Barista Champion Lem Butler.

Before unbuckling another notch on your belt, don’t get too cushy. Durham could win best food destination in the South with your vote. The other nine Southern cities in the running include the nearby, vibrant scene of Asheville and gourmet hotbeds like Charleston, SC; Austin, TX; Miami, FL; and New Orleans, LA. Click here to vote.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wilmoore Cafe sold to Ashley Christensen

Posted by on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 10:57 AM

The Wilmoore Cafe in downtown Raleigh is being sold to chef Ashley Christensen.

David Fowle, who co-owns the Wilmoore, confirmed the deal. The eatery will close temporarily on Jan. 18 and remain shuttered until Christensen re-opens it.

Fowle said daytime business at the South Wilmington Street restaurant has increased as much as 40 percent each month. Although the Wilmoore is open three nights a week, business at that time is slow. "I don't have the energy to do nights," Fowle said.

The Wilmoore will be fifth local venture for Christensen, who is the culinary mastermind behind Poole's Downtown Diner, Chuck's, Beasley's Chicken+Honey and the Fox Liquor Bar.

"She sees the vision of this place," said Fowle, who, with his partners, has owned Wilmoore for two years. "She'll make it better and better."

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    The Raleigh eatery will close temporarily on Jan. 18 and remain shuttered until Christensen re-opens it.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Was it something we said? Bella Mia being sold

Posted by on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 3:43 PM

We've featured them on the cover of INDY Week. We've lauded them as having some of the best pizza in the Triangle—David Ross called Bella Mia "a tireless exemplar of rigor and integrity"—the Mercedes Benz of pizzas.

And now we regret to inform you that Bella Mia in Cary is being sold.

The News & Observer is reporting that Dec. 22 is the last day the current owners will operate the Cary eatery.

New owners are being trained but it is uncertain when Bella Mia will reopen.

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    Bella Mia in Cary to be sold

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Jonathan Bonchak, Michael Harwood take top barista honors

Posted by on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Michael Harwood of Caffe Driade in Chapel Hill and Carrboro Coffee Roasters is one won two awards in the Southeast Regional Barista Championship, held in Atlanta earlier this month.

Jonathan Bonchak of Durham's Counter Culture Coffee, won top honors in the Brewer's Cup.

Harwood, the 2010 champ, finished second in the Brewers Cup Competition and third overall. This is the second consecutive year he has placed in the top three. He advances to the national competition in Boston in April.

The Specialty Coffee Association of America sponsored the contest.

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    Michael Harwood again proves he's won of the nation's top baristas.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

At the vigil for Kabab & Curry owner Mohammed Arfan Sundal

Posted by on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 11:39 AM

A candlelight vigil was held Thursday, Dec. 13, for Mohammed Arfan Sundal, the owner of Kabab & Curry House at 2016 Guess Road, Durham.

Mr. Sundal was fatally shot in the restaurant's parking lot Dec. 6, leaving behind his wife, two daughters and two sons.

ABC11 reports that Durham police went door-to-door Wednesday seeking clues and witnesses. Anyone with information should call CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200.

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    Photos from the vigil, at which Mr. Sundal's brother and daughter spoke

Monday, October 8, 2012

Reliable Cheese in Durham closing

Posted by on Mon, Oct 8, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Reliable Cheese Co., which sells artisan cheeses and meats from its cozy storefront at 405 E. Chapel Hill St. in Durham, is closing Friday, Oct. 19, according to an announcement in its weekly newsletter.

Patrick Coleff opened the store in the summer of 2011. In the Indy's profile of Coleff, the Brooklyn expat discussed one of his reasons for locating his shop in Durham: "We felt that Durham was where the exciting culinary action was happening."

The shop sells a variety of cheeses showcasing, as the profile said, "North Carolina's fromage chic." The cheeses are cut to order and chosen based on their seasonality.

The owners are trying to find alternative locations for scheduled cheese classes. Call 919-680-3939 for more info.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Community, city efforts slowly move urban agriculture forward

Posted by on Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 11:11 AM

Farmhands help wash just-harvested produce at Homegrown City Farms. Under a new city proposal, urban farms could not sell on-site without obtaining a $1,700 permit.
  • Eric Waters
  • Farmhands help wash just-harvested produce at Homegrown City Farms. Under a new city proposal, urban farms could not sell on-site without obtaining a $1700 permit.

The City of Durham and local food advocates are pushing for reform that will allow for more lenient rules on growing food within city limits. Last night, Durham community members gathered at 801 Gilbert St. for a public information session provided by the Durham City-County Planning Department and community group Durham Food Prosperity Council.

As agriculture spreads throughout developing and revitalized American cities, Durham is among the leaders in urban food movements. Current zoning regulations, however, restrict how food can be grown and distributed within city limits.

Durham’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) was established in 2006 as a tool to regulate development, said Michael Stock, city senior planner. Land use, including agriculture, falls under zoning district rules.

“Agriculture is [currently] limited to within the county, outside city limits,” Stock said. “We want to get something on the books for you guys, because right now the ordinance is very restrictive.”

Last night’s public information session followed a public meeting in early September that resulted in the first draft of a UDO text amendment proposed to the Joint City-County Planning Committee.

“What came out of that meeting was that we felt there needed to be a public information meeting, not only to go over the changes, but to provide education on what the UDO is all about,” Stock said.

Crop production and farmers markets are two main focuses in the text amendments. Currently, no one can legally grow food within residential zones in city limits and then sell it on-site without a special-use permit. That permit, Stock says, costs about $1,700 and requires at least a three-month waiting period. Rather than an administrative process, a special use permit is a quasi-judicial process that would require a public hearing for each permit application.

“That’s prohibitive of new farmers,” Collier Reeves told the crowd. She grows food as part of Homegrown City Farms, a quarter-acre lot in East Durham. “We’re talking about a city lot size to a quarter acre. For a new farmer, the cost is too prohibitive," she said. "I work other jobs, too, in order to farm. These new provisions should make it more feasible for my career track as an urban farmer to focus on growing the food.”

Another resounding concern among the crowd was the distinction that the current UDO and text amendment set for community gardens versus urban farms. Community gardens would not be allowed to sell on-site under any circumstances, while commercial producers could if they obtained the permit. Durham County has a half dozen registered community gardens, and at least as many cropping up.

“Why does the ordinance discourage local distribution?” asked Kate DeMayo of Bountiful Backyards, a cooperative and enterprise that establishes edible landscapes for private clients while also providing community-based farming models, such as Angier Avenue Farm.

“If you’re commercial, you can do that,” replied Stock.

“That model is outdated. Thinking about them as two different things isn’t helpful. There are far more innovative models,” DeMayo said.

In response to her and others’ concerns, Stock said, “everything’s on the table right now. In 2006 [when the UDO was created], a lot of these issues weren't being raised."

The issue of farmers markets highlights an important distinction, too. To conduct a market within city limits, regardless of commercial or residential zoning district, a farmers market requires a temporary use permit. This would have to be renewed every year at a cost of about $50. Stock said that all product sold must be food grown within the county, or make predominant use of that food in its product. This potentially bans food trucks and craft vendors from selling at market. The downtown Durham Farmer’s Market is an exception; that space operates under a mixed-use permit.

“Nothing’s scheduled right now [moving forward].” Stock said. “Our goal is to go back to JCCPC with some sort of revised provision based upon what we heard tonight. The initial project is really to get something on the books and get basically the ordinance out of the way of establishing some sort of urban agriculture. But when there will be an actual public hearing, I can’t tell you at this point.”

Rochelle Sparko, founder of Durham Food Prosperity Council, said the conversations with the city “have been going for about six to seven months now and really picked up hugely when the text amendments came out. They have been very responsive.”

The meetings have succeeded thus far in connecting the city and the community.

“We’re not experts in this,” said Keith Luck, assistant director of City-County Strategic Planning, present at the meeting. “You guys are. We need your input to make these changes.”

As more questions arose over the city regulations, permit costs and zoning, Pete Schubert, community board member for the South Durham Farmers Market, spoke up.

“We need to be careful when we talk about growing food as permissible,” Schubert said. “Growing food is a right. That would really set the stage moving forward.”

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    The City of Durham and local food advocates are pushing for reform that will allow for more lenient rules on growing food within city limits.

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Clucking now legal within Cary town limits

Posted by on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 11:58 AM

A flyer designed by advocate group Cary Chickens after Cary Town Council voted to allow backyard chickens.
  • A flyer designed by advocate group Cary Chickens after Cary Town Council voted to allow backyard chickens.
On Aug. 23, Cary Town Council officially approved a Backyard Chicken Ordinance that now allows residents within town limits to legally keep a chicken coop on their property. The ordinance was approved by a 4-3 vote.

Cary Chickens, a group of backyard chicken advocates who "give a cluck about Cary," has been trying for more than four years to lure local government in their favor. According to the Cary Chickens blog post announcing the change, "Countless hours were spent collecting signatures, spreading the word, and educating residents at farmer’s markets and other venues. This was an effort by the community for the benefit of the community."

The ordinance allows a maximum of five hens, but no roosters. The coop must be kept in the backyard within at least 15 feet of the home and requires a one-time $50 permit fee. Onsite slaughter is not allowed. The ordinance does not exempt residents from the rules of neighborhood homeowner's associations. Click here to read the complete ordinance.

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