I don't know about you, but I need a non-food food column. I'm writing this during the height of the holiday season, which today featured a workplace holiday potluck of staggering caloric proportions. Sausage balls, sweet potato casserole, creamed spinach ... Then I returned to my desk to find an enormous gift basket full of gourmet goodies staring me down. So, how about I take you on a virtual dining experience—a chance to read about our area's food scene—no elastic waistband required?
We have chefs and we have bloggers, and now we have an actual chef who blogs. Bill Smith, who has been turning out wonderful stuff at Crook's Corner (610 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 929-7643, www.crookscorner.com) for more than a decade, is offering a window into that kitchen through his writings and photographs at his blog, A Year in the Kitchen, www.seasonedinthesouth.com/blog. (The blog is hosted on the site for Smith's 2005 cookbook.) Like many of our area chefs, Smith really lives seasonal eating. This fall, he wrote about the drought's effect on produce coming through his door (persimmons made it, Jerusalem artichokes did not), as well as his own culinary travels to Mississippi and Mexico.
Food blogging continues to proliferate in Durham. The latest blog I've stumbled upon is cookingeatingdurham (www.cookingeatingdurham.com), written by "two foodies in Durham, N.C.!" Durhamfood and DurmOnion are the writers, and they prefer to remain anonymous "for no particular reason other than it being a little more mysterious (and thus much more fun)." They cook, they eat out, and they have opinions, so they have posts devoted to "restaurants, recipes and rants." And they have an entire section about—I am not making this up—desserts with bacon. Check 'em out.
While you're online, head over to the Southern Foodways Alliance's site, www.southernfoodways.com. This organization, based out of the University of Mississippi, is devoted to documenting and celebrating the diverse food cultures of the American South. Its oral historians have posted the results of their "Chapel Hill Eats" project, featuring interviews with local treasures Keith Allen of Allen & Son Barbecue (6203 Millhouse Road, Chapel Hill, 942-7576), Mildred "Mama Dip" Council of Mama Dip's Traditional Country Cooking (408 W. Rosemary St., Chapel Hill, 942-5837, www.mamadips.com) and Cliff Collins of Cliff's Meat Market (100 W. Main St., Carrboro, 942-2196, www.cliffsmeat.qpg.com). The site includes interview transcripts, audio and photos.
Twisted Noodles Thai Bistro (4201 University Drive, Durham, 489-9888, www.twistednoodles.com) got a mention in the January 2008 issue of Bon Appetit magazine for its "authentic home-style Thai dishes." Under the headline "Humble is Hot," the magazine's restaurant editor, Andrew Knowlton, praised the trend of "Asian-style noodle bars that put an emphasis on seasonal ingredients and smart design."
Know about a special food event in the Triangle? Send it to Now Serving at firstname.lastname@example.org.