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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

Friday, July 13, 2012

Former Frazier's chef joins Piedmont

Posted by on Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 11:05 AM

After a nationwide search, the Piedmont restaurant in Durham announced today it has hired Jeffrey Satterly of Frazier’s in Raleigh as the new Chef de Cuisine.

According to Jamie DeMent, one of the partners of Eno Hospitality Group, which owns the Piedmont, hiring a new chef entailed not only interviews but also a “local Iron Chef-style” competition.

“We showed up with ingredients and (the chefs) created meals,” she said.
The challenges were held at Piedmont’s sister restaurant, Zely & Ritz in Raleigh, which is also owned by Eno Hospitality Group.

The group opened Zely & Ritz eight years ago to create a restaurant that used ingredients from local farmers in North Carolina and, if needed, the Southeast. After Zely & Ritz, the group opened Piedmont almost five years ago with the same goals in mind.

Chef Satterly previously worked at Frazier’s in Raleigh, which was named one of the top 20 restaurants while he was there. Satterly said he is looking forward to working at Piedmont with the Eno Hospitality Group.

“I am incredibly excited to join the Piedmont team,” Satterly said in a press release. “I am looking forward to working with all local ingredients and to working with a team that includes dedicated farmers … and a chef partner as creative as Sarig Agasi.”

Chef Agasi is also a partner in the Eno Hospitality Group and works at Zely & Ritz.

DeMent said Piedmont’s ingredient-driven and seasonal menu will not drastically change.

“We hired Jeffrey to follow in our current tradition,” DeMent said.

Current Piedmont chef Marco Shaw signed on to the project for two years to help open the restaurant but is leaving to pursue new projects. He’ll stay at Piedmont through July, working with Satterly during the transition.

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    Jeff Satterly is the new Chef de Cuisine at the Durham restaurant.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Blend arrives at Durham's Golden Belt

Posted by on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 8:04 AM

The newly opened Blend Cafe, 807 E. Main St., offers customers good coffee, pastries, breakfast and lunch in a convenient and growing location in Durham.

Courtney Smith, the manager and operator of Blend, says the cafe offers a diverse crowd and "a place for anyone from anywhere to come." The cafe shares the Golden Belt campus with technologists, graphic design specialists, artists and event planning specialists. Golden Belt also houses loft apartments and a tattoo company, among many other businesses.

Smith noted that the Golden Belt location is interesting because of the incorrect perception that the area is an unsightly part of town; she says she hopes that Blend will help fight these perceptions.

"I live in the community because I wanted to get a sense of community. I love to be where people can be themselves," says Smith, who operates the cafe with the help of her family.

Smith says she wants to buy locally yet make the products affordable for customers. Currently, Blend uses local farmers for some of their products. The menu includes Counter Culture coffee, new and traditional espresso drinks, smoothies, pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches. The cafe also offers vegan and vegetarian items, and Smith says that Blend seeks to continuously expand its menu.

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Meet-and-Three: Durham's Current Cafeteria

Posted by on Sat, Dec 31, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Debra Craig and Sook Rha at Current Cafeteria in Durham.
  • Debra Craig and Sook Rha at Current Cafeteria in Durham.
Sook “Sue” Rha, a Korean native and former bookkeeper with no formal cooking experience, surveyed the sandwich stand she purchased with her husband, Bong Kya Rha, on North Roxboro Road. There was eight-month old food in the refrigerators and a menu she knew little about: hot dogs, hamburgers and biscuits. New to Durham, however, she needed the work that the shuttered restaurant, Mama Ann’s, could provide. “We had to have a job,” she recalls. “We had to do something.”

The answer was stuck to a wall. A yellowing piece of paper listed contact information for Mary Jacob, who had run the stand for years before. Sue called. Soon after, Jacob returned to Mama Ann’s, willing to teach the Rhas everything she knew about cooking. “We were just beside her learning,” Rha says of their time together. “We catch up pretty good.”

But they didn’t just catch up. The Rhas mastered a traditional Southern menu. Five years after re-opening Mama Ann’s, customers prodded them to move their business a few blocks up Roxboro to what was then a failing meat-and-three, Current Cafeteria, that opened some 50 odd years ago. “You’ll be the right person over there,” Sue recalls of their conversations with her.

It was a good fit. Feb. 2 will mark the Rhas' 18th year at the restaurant, where they serve breakfast and lunch from a short hot bar. Stacked wood-patterned trays anchor one end where dessert is up first. A glass cabinet displays slices of pie before steam trays of vegetables and entrées.

Hanging high above the serving area, a menu with interchangeable placards displays the dishes available each day. But ordering is a conversation. When I visited on a recent Monday, Debra Craig stood behind glass, pointing out and describing each pan of food.

There was thinly breaded crisp fried chicken or chicken livers and a steaming pan of beef stew accompanied by green beans, tomatoes and okra, potatoes, cole slaw, mashed potatoes and cabbage, among other options. On top of the buffet, rolled tightly in wax paper, individual packs of greasy golden rounds of cornbread warmed under a heat lamp. At the serving area’s end, an entrée with two vegetables and bread rings up for a mere $4.70. “We try to keep as low of prices as we can,” Sue says.

The recession has made breakfast—fatback and red hot biscuits and egg plate specials—more popular than lunch. When I dined shortly after 1 p.m., only a handful of people were seated in the dining room’s red booths. Still, Sue says she is “blessed” by what business she does have. “I really enjoy this job. My children grew up here,” she says.

Others have, too. Sue estimates that her customers are almost entirely regulars. “Some people come morning and lunch. I know them, they know me.” She speaks to each of them.

“Be nice. That’s my main goal always,” she admits. And try to be clean and fresh.”

But with a 50-year-old cafeteria the desired look is “something not completely shining.” It’s Current Cafeteria but it’s well worn.

Current Cafeteria is located at 3002 N. Roxboro Road in Durham.

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    Current Cafeteria, a labor of love for 18 years

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bull Street Gourmet & Market opens in Durham

Posted by on Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Coming soon has finally arrived. For many months, an empty storefront in Durham's Hope Valley Square has promised that the Bull Street Gourmet & Market would open—and now the small, cozy shop is in business.

From chocolate to charcuterie, wine to wasabi pistachios, the store also stocks North Carolina products, including cheese by the Goat Lady Dairy and nut butters from Big Spoon Roasters.

The deli serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in the cafe. On the lighter side, choose from oatmeal, yogurt and fruit, and for heartier appetites there is a bagel topped with sausage, cheese and egg. Lunch and dinner includes salads, sandwiches and soups, including a vegan option for the latter. Carnivores should be pleased with the selection of pastrami, chicken, turkey and roast beer. Vegetarian choices include a mozzarella sandwich with marinated and fresh tomatoes, walnut pesto and balsamic reduction. The tofu sandwich appears to be vegan—with pickled shiitakes, yum!—but it's always wise to ask.

There is a kids menu, and of course, desserts.

Hours are Monday—Friday 7:30 a.m.—7:30 p.m., Saturday—Sunday 9 a.m.—3 p.m.
It is located at 3710 Shannon Road.

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    Hankering for wasabi pistachios? Check out Bull Street Gourmet & Market.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meet-and-Three: The Coffee Pot of Smithfield

Posted by on Sun, Nov 27, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Owners Carolyn Artis and Tyron Pearce at The Coffee Pot in Smithfield
  • Owners Carolyn Artis and Tyron Pearce at The Coffee Pot in Smithfield
When I set out to write a column on Southern plate lunch restaurants, I had one thing in mind: The Coffee Pot of Smithfield. Anchoring one end of a small strip of rotating shops (vacuum repair, tattoos, Internet sweepstakes) on a stretch of Highway 301 known as Brightleaf Boulevard, the meat-and-three is no more than a mile from the house where I grew up. It's the restaurant where I learned to like collards. It's where, as the daughter of a single working parent, my mother and I ate a hot, home-cooked dinner two nights a week. There was also breakfast.

Every Tuesday morning from the time I got my driver's license until the moment I left for college, I met a friend at 7 a.m. at The Coffee Pot. We ordered the same meal each time: French toast, sausage links, orange juice and a glass of water. A few months before we graduated from high school, owner and cook Carolyn Artis finally asked us an important, highly anticipated question: "Do you want your regular?" My friend and I clinked glasses of orange juice like tumblers of bourbon. We were in. It was a Smithfield rite of passage akin to a first taste of the town's salty, thin-sliced Johnston County Ham.

Continue reading…

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    At The Coffee Pot, I'm guaranteed to run into more of my cousins than I will at a family holiday dinner, and everyone else in town, too.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Chefs share farm-to-table philosophy at CFSA Sustainable Agriculture Conference

Posted by on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 9:57 AM

File photo of Chapel Hills Lantern Restaurant, 2007
  • Rex Miller
  • File photo of Chapel Hill's Lantern Restaurant, 2007

A group of Southern agriculture enthusiasts—advocates, if you will—descended upon Durham this past weekend for Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s 26th annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference. The Pittsboro-based nonprofit advocates for and helps create sustainable food systems within the Carolinas.

What sort of folks spend three days in back-to-back ag-focused workshops, lectures and tours? I ran into the usual suspects from last year’s conference held in Winston-Salem: organic farmers, chefs, policy analysts and agro-ecology professors. But this year, fittingly enough for our area, CFSA added a separate category to the list of Horticulture, Livestock and Soil workshops: Foodie.

As much as I may dislike that term, trendy buzzwords lead to smart marketing. Local foodies were out in full force, with a voracious mental appetite. (Full disclosure here: CFSA asked me to help moderate the Urban Durham Foodie Tour, which I accepted and had great fun in doing so.)

It came as no surprise, then, when a large group of food enthusiasts who care about how their grass-fed hamburger gets from steer to market to restaurant plate joined farmers on Saturday for a Farm-to-Restaurant workshop. More alluring, however, was panel's candidness.

Chef-owner Amy Tornquist of Durham’s Watts Grocery and Sage and Swift Catering, farmer Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm and cheesemaker/ farmer Portia McKnight of Chapel Hill Creamery rounded out a panel moderated by nationally acclaimed Chapel Hill Lantern chef Andrea Reusing.

“We live in this crazy place as everyone’s foodiest hometown,” Reusing said, “but probably less than five percent of what we consume is grown here. A little of our notoriety is largely symbolic.”

She noted that an open chef/cook to consumer relationship can help address this issue. In a lively and, most times, comedic discussion that veered from buoyant to deadpan, the panel openly acknowledged their problems as chefs and farmers and dished out advice to farmers in the audience on how to market their product to restaurants.

Continue reading…

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    "I need people to drink more at breakfast." — Watts Grocery chef-owner Amy Tornquist

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Meet-and-Three: Ye Old Country Kitchen of Snow Camp

Posted by on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Bryan Wilson stands with part of his John Deere collection at Ye Old Country Kitchen in Snow Camp. - PHOTO BY EMILY WALLACE
  • Photo by Emily Wallace
  • Bryan Wilson stands with part of his John Deere collection at Ye Old Country Kitchen in Snow Camp.

Model John Deere tractors fill every shelf and display cabinet in the three dining rooms at Ye Old Country Kitchen in Snow Camp. And not just tractors. There’s a John Deere airplane, a truck that’s integrated into a tractor-pull scene, and a snow mobile.

John Deere stockpiles like Ye Old’s aren’t rare. Similar to Coca Cola memorabilia (which also hangs on a few of the walls), the green-and-yellow farm machinery inspires random, obsessive collectors (see But I can get behind a tractor collection. My family owned a farm implement business in Johnston County for decades, and my toy box ran over with Allis Chalmers figurines and model tractor wheels. Anytime I’m in an antique store, I look for the distinct orange pieces.

Bryan Wilson, Ye Old Country Kitchen’s owner, tells a similar story about his acquisitions. His father was a farmer in Snow Camp, as was his grandfather. “I started getting toy [tractors] at a young age and have been collecting ever since.”

Photographs of his Wilson’s grandfather’s dairy farm hang below the well-kept mini tractors, which are mostly encased in their original packaging (I buried most of mine in a sandbox). Next to the one-story, wood-planked restaurant that was used as a set for the film Vampires Anonymous stands a sign for the Durham-based Long Meadow Milk, with whom the Wilson family used to work.

Wilson’s parents, James and Louise, opened the restaurant at the corner of Snow Camp Road and Greensboro Chapel Hill Road in 1969, when the unincorporated community of Snow Camp had little other than farmland. “There wasn’t anything out here like that,” Wilson says. Ye Old Country Kitchen remained the only restaurant in the area for 30 years, at which point Yesteryear Cafe opened a mile away on a two-lane road.

I ask Wilson about his own ties to farming. “Do you have any actual John Deeres?”

“A couple.”

“And do you farm?” I ask.

“A little,” he says, claiming “a few cows and pigs.”

I believe Wilson, who is soft-spoken, and wears a blue ballshirt that bears his restaurant’s endorsement.

I eat from the buffet, choosing super-crisp fried chicken (the highlight), boiled cabbage, green beans, macaroni and cheese and a salad. Wilson admits that he cooked most of it. For dessert, I get a piece of cool chocolate pie, which his mother made. She still bakes all of the desserts, he tells me. With the rest of her time, Louise Wilson works next door at the Outdoor Theatre, which she started almost 40 years ago to help educate people about the area’s Quaker roots. The theatre’s longest running play, The Sword of Peace, dramatizes decisions made by Quakers, whose religious beliefs are rooted in nonviolence, during the American Revolution.

The production’s focus on local is reflected next door at the restaurant, which Wilson’s grandparents took over once the theatre was started. They moved it to its current spot on Drama Road, and expanded the building nine times to accommodate crowds. Wilson began his stint as owner in 1987, following his grandfather’s death in 1983.

About five years ago, he added a store. It stocks desserts by Louise Wilson, honey by Cane Mountain Farm of Graham, and wines by Wolfe Wines of Snow Camp. I eye the shelves while paying for my meal.

“You have a lot of local food,” I tell Wilson.

“We try,” he says, adding that there’s meat for sale, too. He goes to a freezer and comes back to show me a frozen pound of hot sausage. The label reads, “Ye Old Country Kitchen.”

After prodding Wilson that he must raise more than his admitted few hogs in order to process the sausage, he tells me that he also sales his own country ham and supplies the restaurant with some of its meat. The remainder of Ye Old's food is primarily purchased from nearby farmers.

Wilson is as humble as his restaurant, which serves honest good food. The only extravagance at Ye Old, it seems, are the tractors, but they hint at the restaurant’s roots. There are the Coca Cola signs, too, but those, says Wilson, are just a hobby.

Ye Old Country Kitchen (327 Drama Road, Snow Camp) is open 11 a.m.—2:30 p.m. and 5-8:30 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, and 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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    Ye Old Country Kitchen, the place for home cooking in Snow Camp

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Capital 16 Club celebrates Game Week, as in wild game, not Twister

Posted by on Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 3:13 PM

The Meat Stall by Pieter Aertsen, 1551
  • "The Meat Stall" by Pieter Aertsen, 1551
After a long election season, nothing satisfies a politico's hunger like a big slab of wild boar and a napkin the size of a head sail.

Tonight Capital 16 Club in Raleigh launches Game Week, when the menu features food you hunt in the woods or fields—as opposed to raising on farms—including wild boar, rabbit, venison and pheasant.

Game Week runs through Saturday, Nov. 12.

According to the eatery's newsletter, the menu "spans from rustic, earthy recipes to those inspired by meals served at the grand restaurants of the early 19th and 20th century, and in particular the historical NYC’s Luchow’s Venison Festival."

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    Tonight Capital 16 Club in Raleigh launches Game Week, with the menu featuring wild boar, rabbit, venison and pheasant.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

N.C. State Fair Illustrated: Day 10

Posted by on Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Tenth post in a series of drawings to coincide with the North Carolina State Fair (October 13-23).
  • Emily Wallace
  • Tenth post in a series of drawings to coincide with the North Carolina State Fair (October 13-23).

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    Turkey shoot

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